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Segna di Bonaventura, Crucifix

Key facts
Full title Crucifix
Artist Segna di Bonaventura
Artist dates active 1298; died 1326/31
Date made about 1310-15
Medium and support Egg tempera on poplar
Dimensions 213.5 × 184 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG567
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Segna di Bonaventura

Segna di Bonaventura, from Siena, was the nephew of Duccio di Buoninsegna, that city’s leading artist. They shared a love of flowing lines, harmonious colour combinations and graceful expression of emotion.

Painted Crucifixes of this kind were common features of Italian churches in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and they would have hung high over an altar or the choir. In the mid-thirteenth century, in line with new ideas about worship that encouraged a greater emotional connection to Christ’s suffering, the image of Christ crucified changed. The pain and sorrow of his death became the focus of the representation.

Here, for example, Christ’s lifeless body hangs limply, legs drooping to one side and head slumped forward. Blood drips from the wounds on his hands and feet and sprays from his side. The viewer is invited to join the Virgin Mary and Saint John – who occupy the small panels at either end of the cross – in mourning.

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