Head of Christ
Italy, 18th century
Wax, glass eyes, textile, crown of thorns
H 28 cm, L 16 cm



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The rare wax relief of Christ present stands apart through it’s hyperrealistic rendering as well as the exquisite colouring and artful handling of the unique materials used: wax, glass, and naturally grown thorns.
It’s astonishing naturalism, showing the death mask of christ, derives from the treatment of the material, mimicking both the color and smooth surface of the skin, as well as the use of glass eyes – a typical feature of 16th – 18th century Italian and spanish sculpture. Hair and beard however were not made of real human hair, like it was often done for wax portraits or busts, but also made from painted wax, giving the relief an otherworldly quality and it’s unique aesthetic. This is a feature also found in a comparable sculpture of Saint Paul, today located at Stifts Kremsmünster in Austria.
The relief was cast in a mould, making it a lightweight and hollow work of art which was meant to be hanged and displayed on a wall. This is confirmed by a remarkably similar relief kept in Sanluri at the Museo Del Risorgimento Duca D’Aosta: it was very likely made in the 18th century using the same casting mould in an Italian workshop. However, this mould served only as a base: both artworks were elaborately hand-finished by a profound artist who gave both artworks their unique character.
It’s fascinating aesthetic and charisma convinces regardless of age.

Published in: Raum für Objekte - Ariane Laue Kunsthandel, Kat. VI - Nr. 27, Munich 2019