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The Crucifixion: MAR.M.253-1912

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Crucifixion


Maker: unidentified enameller




Copper, decorated with polychrome enamels, and gilded

Rectangular almost flat copper plaque with small blocked holes in the corners, enamelled in blue, green, yellow, pale brown, a little pale red, black, grey, and white enamels, and gilded. The reverse has clear counter-enamel.
Christ hangs on the Cross with INRI inscribed on a gold label above his head. The two thieves are crucified on either side. The pale red blood trickling from their wounds stands out from their white bodies. Two horsemen and a crowd of soldiers in sixteenth century costume mill around the crosses.One of the horseman, Longinus, has pierced Christ’s side with a spear. Two soldiers at the front on the right hold shields, one of which is decorated with a lion’s head. The others behind hold axes and pole weapons. A soldier on the left holds a sponge on a staff. Mary Magdalene clings to the base of the Cross, and St John stands on the left. In front of him the Virgin swoons, supported by two holy women. A skull and a bone lie at the base of the Cross. The sky is black with the sun above the repentant sinner on the left, the moon on the right, and above the cross scattered stars, all in gold. Elsewhere gold is used quite profusely for Christ’s hair, crown, and halo; for the sponge on a staff, the axes and pole weapons; the edges of the garments and armour, and plumes on the helmets.
The plaque is set into a plain gilt-metal rectangular frame with a suspension ring at the top, and a toothed edge at the back to secure the plaque. It is not original.


History note: Messrs Whitehead, 8 Duke St, St James's from whom purchased on 13 April 1864 for £65 by Charles Brinsley Marley (1831-1912)

Legal notes

C.B. Marlay Bequest

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


16th Century, Mid
Circa 1545 CE - 1555 CE


This Crucifixion was formerly attributed to Pierre Reymond but the frieze-like arrangement of the crowd of figures behind the Cross, and their long noses, seem closer to the style of the enameller who signed KIP, although probably not his work. The figures in the foreground may have been derived from a woodcut illustration which first appeared in the 'Horae in laudem beatissimae virginis Mariae secundum usum romanum' (Hours in praise of the most blessed virgin Mary according to the use of Rome), published in Paris in 1529 by the great designer and printer, Geoffroy Tory (c. 1480-1533). His woodcuts were reused by Olivier Mallard in his 'Horae' of 1541 and again by Thielman Kerver II in his 'Horae' of 1556.The plaque is unlikely to date from the late 1530s so the enameller may have seen one of the later editions. The similarities are with the Magdalene at the foot of the Cross, the man holding a shield decorated with a lion's mask, and the group on the left, particularly the Virgin Mary, whose legs are in an unusual and strangely awkward position. The flatness of the plaque, the jet-black background, and regularity of its side and top edges gave rise to concern about its authenticity, but ion beam analysis of the enamels at C2RMF, Paris in December 2012 indicated that they conformed to the composition of those used in the sixteenth century.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( blue, green, yellow, pale brown, a little pale red, black, grey, and white) gold
Frame composed of gilt-metal Height 11.4 cm Width 8 cm
Plaque composed of copper

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: An abbreviation of Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, the Latin version of a title, made also in Hebrew and Greek, which according to the Gospel was written by Pilate on the Cross (John 19, 19-20)

  • Text: INRI
  • Location: On cross
  • Method of creation: Reserved in black on gold label
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: circular white paper stick on label

  • Text: School of/the Reymonds
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Hand-written in pencil
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: MAR.M.253-1912
Primary reference Number: 156448
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 1 March 2024 Last processed: Friday 1 March 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "The Crucifixion" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-14 01:43:50

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Crucifixion |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-14 01:43:50|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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