Cristo Morto (The Dead Christ on the Cross)

Antonio Susini (Florence 1558–1624 Florence)
Cristo Morto (The Dead Christ on the Cross)
After a model by Giambologna of ca. 1588, cast ca. 1590–1615
Gilt bronze
12 1/4 in. (31 cm)

 

Giambologna modeled this figure of the dead Christ as a lithe, beautiful nude whose crucified body retains a sense of vibrant animation. His principal assistant, the goldsmith Antonio Susini, cast the model in bronze and tooled the metal’s surface with delicate precision. Brilliant gilding in precious gold honors the divine character of Christ’s sacrificial death.

The sculpture’s preciosity and quiet contemplative mood reflect Italian Renaissance traditions of religious devotion. The gilt-bronze Christ is compared with Giovanni di Paolo’s exquisite panel of almost two centuries earlier, which depicts the dead Savior framed within a celestial field of gold. As the Man of Sorrows, Christ displays his mortal wounds to symbolize the perpetual nature of his living sacrifice.