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Maker(s):Master of the Blue Crucifixes
Culture:Italian (op. 1265 - 1275)
Title:Processional Cross
Date Made:ca. 1265-1275
Materials:tempera and gilt on gesso over linen and wood
Place Made:Italy
Measurements:15 x 9 x 2 in.; 38.1 x 22.86 x 5.08 cm
Narrative Inscription:  unsigned, undated
Accession Number:  SC 1924.18.1
Credit Line:Purchased with the Winthrop Hillyer Fund
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

Currently on view

religion - Christian; crucifix

Label Text:
During the Middle Ages, indoor and outdoor processions were a common ritual before special services or celebrations in the church. This double-sided cross probably served as a permanent attachment to the top of a bishop's staff. When carried in procession, the image of Christ could be seen by the crowd from behind or in front. Inside the church, worshippers would have been filled with awe at the sight of soft candlelight reflecting off the golden surfaces and illuminating the image of the suffering Christ.

The cross is attributed in style to an artist called the Master of the Blue Crucifixes, known for the painted crosses he made for the Basilica of San Francis of Assisi. To make the cross, the artist first covered a wooden frame with linen and "gesso", a type of plaster. A reddish clay, called "bol", was then applied as an adhesive for small, thin sheets of gold leaf. Each delicate figure of Christ was painted with "tempera", an egg-based paint that requires a high level of skill to use because it dries so quickly.

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