Francesco di Valdambrino
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This painted wooden crucifix is undocumented, but after cleaning removed two layers of heavy repaint that had obscured the surface, revealing the original polychromy, scholars agree that it is the work of the Sienese specialist in wood sculpture, Francesco di Valdambrino of the early fifteenth century (c. 1420). The polychromy was executed by an unknown painter -- Taddeo di Bartolo has been tentatively suggested. The arms are of poplar, whereas the body is made of walnut (one piece for the body and legs, another for the head), and at one time the arms were removed so that they could be placed by the sides in order to "entomb" Christ on Good Friday. Some crucifixes have hinges for this purpose, but this one did not and instead seems to have been adapted to make it into a movable work in an ad hoc way. The carving and finely done painting and gilding of the surface emphasize the suffering of Christ in the gaping wounds and distorted feet, with blood pouring out. The feet would likely be the part closest to the devotees entering the church, as crucifixes were hung high over choir screens or raised slightly on an altar or on a "monticello" (little mountain). The body, however, while thin, is hardly contorted in suffering, and the face turned down towards the faithful is nobly composed, even lovely, in contrast to Donatello's slightly earlier crucifix for Santa Croce. The work was originally placed in the Chiesa di Sant'Egidio in Montalcino, but is today found in the Museo Civico e Diocesano d'Arte Sacra, Montalcino. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.