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Man on cross surrounded by angels and mourning figures.

A light skinned man hangs on a tall wooden cross. Blood flows from wounds in his hands, chest, and feet. Four figures, two men and two women, stand and kneel around the base of the cross. All have halos around their heads. Below the cross is a human skull. On either side of the cross are orange-and-blue shapes. The paint is partially rubbed away, but they seem to be images of angels and clouds. Another angel with red wings is suspended above the cross holding a scroll and a bloody robe.

Gallery Text

This painting was most likely the central part of a portable tabernacle and dates to the artist’s early career. The angels sweeping in from the heavens bring drama and a sense of urgency to the composition, which is further intensified by the figures of Saints Clare and Francis, who strain their heads back to observe the turbulence above them. Their presence suggests that the work was commissioned by a Franciscan, whose order was particularly drawn to the veneration of the Crucifixion. The figures of the Virgin and Saint John frame the composition and serve as intercessors for the beholder. Pietro had strong connections with the Franciscans, and executed some of his most celebrated frescoes in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, the order’s mother church.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Pietro Lorenzetti, Italian (active 1306-1348)
Christ on the Cross with the Virgin and Saints Clare, John the Evangelist, and Francis
Work Type
c. 1320
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Tuscany, Siena
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
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Physical Descriptions

Tempera and gold leaf on panel
sight: 45.4 x 36.3 cm (17 7/8 x 14 5/16 in.)
frame: 55.5 x 45 cm (21 7/8 x 17 11/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Unidentified collection, sold [through Bernard Berenson]; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop, New York, 1918, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: a list of the principal artists and their works, with an index of places, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1932), p. 293
  • Millard Meiss, "Nuovi dipinti e vecchi problemi", Rivista d'Arte (1955), vol. 30, no. 93, pp. 107-145, pp.113-118, repr. p. 114 as fig. 4
  • Carlo Volpe, "Nuove proposte sui Lorenzetti", Arte antica e moderna (July/September 1960), pp. 263-277, pp. 264, 265-266, repr. as 73
  • E. K. Waterhouse, "Some Notes on William Young Ottley's Collection of Italian Primitives", ed. Charles Peter Brand, W. Heffer (Cambridge, UK, 1962), pp. 277 and 279 as no. 50
  • Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance, A List of the Principal Artists and their Works with an Index of Places: Central and North Italian Schools, Phaidon (London, 1968), p. 216
  • Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 109
  • Everett Fahy, "Italian Painting Before 1500", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 377-388, p. 384, repr. p. 383 as fig. 6
  • Hayden B.J. Maginnis, "Pietro Lorenzetti: A Chronology", The Art Bulletin (June 1984), vol. 66, no. 2, pp.183-211, pp. 196-197, 200, repr. p. 200 as fig. 22
  • Miklós Boskovits, "Considerations on Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti", Paragone. Arte. (1986), vol. 37, no. 439, pp. 3-16, pp. 4-5
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 162, p. 144, repr.
  • Carlo Volpe, Pietro Lorenzetti, Electa (Milan, 1989), pp.115, 117, cat. no. 90
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990)
  • Keith Christiansen, "Paul Delaroche's Crucifixion by Pietro Lorenzetti", Apollo (February 2003), vol. 157, pp. 8-14
  • Carl Brandon Strehlke, Italian Paintings 1250-1450 in the John G. Johnson Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA, 2004), p. 214

Exhibition History

  • An Exhibition of Italian Paintings and Drawings, Fogg Art Museum, 03/24/1939 - 04/15/1939
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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