Description The seven scenes of this Passion altarpiece are carved from separate blocks of wood. They are: the Arrest of Christ, the Flagellation, Christ Carrying the Cross, the Crucifixion (crucified figures and angels are later replacements), Christ's Body Lowered from the Cross, the Entombment, and the Resurrection. Each vignette is individually composed and originally was probably divided from the next by slender columns at every third arch. We suggest this division by inserting a painted backdrop to complement the remaining authentic architectural detailing. To ensure that the drama of the Passion could be seen from a distance, the artist made the figures animated, with large heads and exaggerated gestures accentuated through color. He also raised the rear figures. The use of wood allows the carving of weapons and other intricate details as stone would not. In the 1490s, there were several workshops in Brussels producing large, complex carved altarpieces, often for distant markets. The most famous shop was that of Jan Borman, to which our altarpiece was once attributed. The Walters' altarpiece was made for the Collegiate Church of Blainville-Crevon in Normandy, in northwestern France. The altarpiece was damaged at some point in the past, perhaps during the 16th century conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. The Crucified Christ, the two thieves, and the attendant angels are 16th- or 17th-century replacements.
It is the purpose of this article to describe the method developed at the Walters Art Gallery for the preservation and reconstruction of such wooden objects (wood sculpture).
Provenance Jacques Seligmann, Paris, by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1911, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1912
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