Crucified Christ

German or Austrian (Bavaria)
Medieval (Ottonian/Romanesque)
11th century
Unidentified artist

Object Place: Europe, Salzburg, Austria


Overall (from top of head to bottom of base under feet): 180 cm (70 7/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood; willow with polychromy

On View

I. W. Colburn Chapel Gallery (Gallery 254A)





This profoundly moving and monumental figure is one of the very few eleventh-century sculptures of the crucified Christ to have survived to this day. Attached to a cross, it would have hung over an altar in a church, and may occasionally have been carried in procession. Christ’s face is calm and accepting, his head drops forward, and the weight of his body sags downward, creating a very human and direct image that would have inspired sorrow and pity in its viewers.


Possibly from the church of Sankt Zeno, Bad Reichenhall, Germany [see note 1]. With Schuster (possibly Georg Schuster), Munich. May, 1920, acquired in Munich by Harry Fuld (b. 1879 - d. 1932), Frankfurt and Berlin [see note 2]; 1932, by inheritance to his son, Peter Fuld (b. 1921 - d. 1962), London and Toronto, but kept in Berlin [see note 3]; 1942, taken to Austria by Hans W. Lange and temporarily consigned to him for sale [see note 4]; 1943, taken to Frankfurt and kept by the city museums [see note 5]; by 1948, ownership restored to the Fuld family, London, but the sculpture remained in Germany [see note 6]; 1951, sold by the Fuld family, through Arthur Kauffmann, London, to the MFA for £5000. (Accession Date: June 14, 1951)

[1] According to Otto Schmitt and Georg Swarzenski, eds., "Meisterwerke der Bildhauerkunst in Frankfurter Privatbesitz," vol. 1 (Frankfurt, 1921), 9, cat. no. 5, this came from Reichenhall. As proposed by Shirin Fozi, "Harry Fuld, Georg Swarzenski, and the Modern History of a Medieval Crucifix" (paper presented at the MFA, Boston, October 18, 2008), if this work came from Bad Reichenhall, it probably came from the church of Sankt Zeno, which was secularized in 1801 and its contents--including two large, wooden crucifixes--auctioned in 1803.

[2] In 1948, Harry Fuld's son, Peter, attested that his father had acquired the sculpture on the Munich art market in May, 1920 (see below, n. 6). When it was published in 1921 (as above, n. 1), the sculpture was said only to be in a private collection, Frankfurt; Fuld moved his collection from Frankfurt to Berlin in the mid-1920s. On December 15, 1942, auctioneer Hans W. Lange wrote to Ernst Holzinger of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut that Fuld had gotten the sculpture away from a Mr. Schuster in Munich; see Caroline Flick, "Zur Sammlung Fuld" (unpublished ms., 2009), p. 31, n. 125, citing the Archives of the Städlesches Institut, Frankfurt, ASK Sign. 626. This may refer to the collector Georg Schuster of Munich.

[3] Upon the death of Jewish industrialist Harry Fuld in 1932, his entire art collection was divided, three ways, among members of the family. This sculpture - which the estate executor initially told Georg Swarzenski (then of Frankfurt) would be left to the Städel -- was passed on to Fuld's son, Peter Fuld, through his widow, Ida Maria Felsmann Fuld. In the 1940s, Ernst Holzinger of the Städel, and Alfred Wolters, director of the Städtische Galerie of Frankfurt, both sought to acquire the sculpture from Mrs. Fuld; see Flick 2009 (as above, n. 2)

[4] According to the research of Flick, 2009 (as above, n. 2), Alfred Wolters, who hoped to acquire the object, offered in 1942 to take the Crucifix, purportedly for safe-keeping. The auctioneer Hans W. Lange of Berlin removed it to Austria, and was commissioned to sell it. In a letter of November 15, 1942, however, Mrs. Felsmann Fuld announced she was withdrawing the sculpture. It was not sold.

[5] Flick cites a letter from Ernst Holzinger to Mrs. Felsmann Fuld of January 25, 1943 (p. 32, n. 127) stating that the crucifix was with them, that is, the Städel, ostensibly for safe-keeping. It is recorded on an undated list of objects (Archives of the Städelsches Institut, Frankfurt, ASK Sign. 655) that were being held "for air-raid precaution"; see Flick 2009, p. 33. According to Peter Fuld in 1948 (see below, n. 6), it was kept at the Liebighaus, the city's sculpture museum.

[6] On July 12, 1948, Peter Fuld, from London, sought to export the sculpture from Germany, at which time he attested that his father had acquired it on the Munich art market in May, 1920, and that he had inherited it in 1932. In 1949, he acquired an export permit for it (no. V-310) from the U.S. Office of Military Government for Hesse, Wiesbaden. However, in 1942 and again in 1947, the sculpture had been placed on a list of nationally valuable works of art, which were prohibited from export. The Hessian Ministry of Culture did not allow the export of the sculpture to London until 1951.

Credit Line

1951 Purchase Fund