Incorrect Username, Email, or Password

Flat wooden cross in a cross potent shape, wherein each arm of the cross ends in a small perpendicular rectangle. In the center is Christ on a large black cross, a red halo behind his head. Blood streams from the nails in his hands and feet. His legs are twisted around one another and his face is downcast. Behind the cross on the right, two haloed figures in red and black look toward Jesus. In the top rectangle is a man with a halo holding a book. In the bottom rectangle is a kneeling figure in a nun’s habit.

Gallery Text

The small scale of this cross makes it likely that it was commissioned for a private chapel or building. A veiled woman, kneeling in prayer at the foot of the cross, may be the patron who commissioned it. Her presence makes it likely that the crucifix was made for a female audience, either lay or monastic. In the thirteenth century, Italian painters went from depicting rigid figures of Christ, who gazed triumphantly, eyes open, at the beholder, to more emotionally charged representations of the Redeemer, whose dead and bleeding body hangs from the cross in the direction of the supplicant. Such crucifixes were often claimed to be miraculous. Some beholders, such as Saint Francis praying to the crucifix in the Church of San Damiano at Assisi, heard Christ speak; others saw his head move, or were levitated or cured while focusing their devotion on the cross.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unidentified Artist
The Virgin and Saint John the Redeemer, and a Praying Woman
Other Titles
Former Title: Crucifix with Female Donor
Work Type
c. 1290-1295
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Tuscany, Florence
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2440, Medieval Art, Medieval Art
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Tempera on panel
69.5 x 35 x 2.2 cm (27 3/8 x 13 3/4 x 7/8 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Henry S. Bowers, Class of 1900
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • 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. 217 [as unknown Florence 13th century]
  • 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), pp. 119, 279, repr. b/w cat. no. 469
  • Angelo Tartuferi and Mario Scalini, L'Arte a Firenze nell' età di Dante (1250-1300), exh. cat., Giunti Editore (Florence, Italy, 2004), no. 18, repr. in color

Exhibition History

  • L'Arte a Firenze nell'Eta di Dante (1250-1300), Galleria dell'Accademia, Firenze, 06/01/2004 - 09/26/2004
  • The Portrait, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/15/2004 - 01/09/2005
  • 32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at