An 18thC French Carved & Polychrome Decorated Fragmented Figure of Christ c.1750-1800

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Origin: French
Period: Louis XVI
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1750-1800
Height: 21”
Width: 5”
Depth: 3” (all at extremities)

Dating from the Louis XVI period, the well carved softwood figure of Christ, or Ecce Homo, hand painted and partly gilded, with traces of red pigment as the rawness of flesh, the toga gilded and the grey green paint now distressed commensurate with age, surviving from an ecclesiastical setting from the eighteenth century.

Although with obvious losses, the piece has survived in the main and overall it remains a hugely attractive piece in its entirety. Both arms are lacking and the head was clearly carved in two pieces with the front section now absent. There is a very old nail still present to the reverse where the figure was mounted to the wall. The patina to the paint is beautiful as is the wear to the gilding.

This work possibly acted as an adornment over door panel, a tympanum, maybe it was an altarpiece or perhaps it was positioned over a pulpit in a parish church. The best Gothic sculptors were employed on architectural decoration such as this work.

This type of art had the immediacy and drama then that movies today have for modern audiences with the most humble of peasants being able to relate to what they saw, namely birth, suffering and death to their own life in their village. Ecce Homo, ‘Behold the Man’, shows Jesus stripped and brought before the people by the members of the Roman council, who are flanked by soldiers. The people mock and jeer Jesus, who wears a Crown of Thorns. His hands are bound with shackles, while the redness of the now raw flesh on his legs, hands and chest attests to the fact that he has been beaten with a scourge.

A very decorative religious fragment with a beautiful colour.

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