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Art & Design

Spanish, Christ in Majesty, ca. 1090-1100, Gift of John Nicholas Brown

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gallery location RA518.European9

Christ in Majesty

Unknown artist, Spanish
Christ in Majesty, ca. 1090-1100
97.8 x 55.9 cm (38 1/2 x 22 inches)
Gift of John Nicholas Brown 69.196

This limestone relief of Christ was originally set above the portal of the church of Santa Marta de Tera in the Leonese region of Spain. Renowned as a place where the ill and handicapped were cured, the site was an important station along the pilgrimage route to the shrine of Saint James of Compostela in northwestern Spain. In this relief Christ is seated on a throne, holding a book on his lap and raising his right hand in benediction. His distinctive garment is called a chasuble, a poncho-like vestment that is worn by a priest or bishop during the celebration of the Mass. He appears as a youthful, beardless figure, a pose derived from representations of Apollo in Roman sculptures. In contrast, the massive proportions of Christ’s limbs, his thick, ropelike hair, and the abstract patterning of the concentric folds of his robes are stylistic elements that distinguish this representation from more naturalistic, classical ideals.

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