Pre-emption of a 12th century Christ

On 13 January 2020, by Sophie Reyssat

Probably produced in western France, the work now joins the Dobrée Museum in Nantes.

Western France, first half of the 12th century, Christ and central cross plaque in chased, engraved, gilded bronze and copper; plaque: 28.8 x 24 cm, Christ: 16.3 x 16.8 cm, fixed on a darkened wooden crucifix from the 17th/18th century.
Result: €132,600.

This sale on the theme of medieval and Renaissance works was marked by a pre-emption from the Musée Dobrée in Nantes. It swelled its collection with this 12th century Christ, which had remained with a Nantes family since the 19th century and now garnered €132,600. The bronze Saviour is similar to a model that may have come from the former abbey of Notre-Dame de Pontron, near Belligné, a village in the Loire-Atlantique region. The work has been listed by a crucifix specialist, Dr Paul Thoby, former honorary curator of the Musée Départemental Thomas-Dobrée in Nantes. These rare effigies, probably produced in western France, are characterised by subtle, finely worked details such as the locks of hair falling on the shoulders and the folds of the loincloth tied at the hip. Some anatomical features of the bust, like the numerous ribs, still reflect a Byzantine influence. Remarkably, this Christ still has its original plaque: a component that very rarely survives. Placed in the cruciferous halo at the intersection of the cross, it bears various inscriptions, including alpha, omega and the letters "INRI". Another silverwork treasure, a casket (27.3 x 33.7 x 24.5 cm), went all the way up to €104,000 because of its rarity. Formerly part of a European royal collection, it was made in around 1630-1640 in Spain, or one of its colonies, possibly Peru, and is entirely covered in silver leaf decorated with mythological scenes in repoussé work.

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