This painted wood crucifix is particularly revered, as it was used during (and may have been made for) the devotions of the Bianchi in 1399. The Bianchi were a lay devotional movement that swept across Italy. People wore white, performed penitential acts, sang songs, and went on great processions carrying crucifixes in an attempt to escape God's wrath (in the form of the plague). Many of these crucifixes were recorded to have performed miracles --speaking, moving, spouting blood, healing, etc., and so all of the Bianchi crucifixes gained an aura of the miraculous, whether that specific object had performed a miracle or no. The crucifix probably came from the Bianchi of Lucca and was then placed in the Guadagni family chapel in Santissima Annunziata in Florence, before that family was disgraced, and so it was affixed in the Villani Chapel in the same church (1445, designed by Michelozzo). Even though the crucifix gained its revered status by being taken on procession, when Jacopo Villani installed it here, he stipulated that it could never be moved. Quattrocento painted terracotta sculptures of the mourning Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist (attributed by some to the workshop of Luca della Robbia) a frescoed backdrop were also added to create a Crucifixion scene. The crucifix was probably painted faux bronze in the nineteenth century, as many originally polychrome sculptures were at that time. The stylized, emaciated form of Christ's suffering body is typical of Bianchi crucifixes, which were used during penitential devotions, meant to propitiate God's anger. Photograph(s) licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
External DOI