Cristo Vivo (The Living Christ on the Cross)

Alessandro Algardi (Bologna 1598–1654 Rome)
Cristo Vivo (The Living Christ on the Cross)
Model dated ca. 1646; a life-time cast
Bronze
33 in. (83.7 cm)

Algardi depicts Christ sacrificing himself on the cross to redeem mankind. Twisted, billowing draperies echo the pain contained within the Savior’s idealized, outstretched body. Christ directs his gaze toward God, his calm features expressing submission rather than agony. Algardi’s compelling depiction was modeled as a gift for Pope Innocent X. Bronze casts like this superlative example, which reflect the fervent tenor of Catholic devotion, became the most popular crucifixes in Baroque Rome.

Algardi’s Cristo Vivo is juxtaposed with a terracotta of the 1950s titled Crocifisso, by Lucio Fontana. Joining jagged, twisting shards into a cruciform body, Fontana composes a religious image whose spiritual intensity invokes its figurative precedents.