Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
Tall yellow pentagonal panel painted with image of man on cross surrounded by three figures.

A light-skinned man is nailed to a cross. Blood drips from these wounds and a gash at his right ribs. On his head is a crown of thorns. Behind his head is a circular halo with a red cross in the middle. On top of the cross is a sign reading “INRI.” Above this is a miniature green tree with a bird on top, its beak puncturing its own chest. Below the man on the cross are three figures, a standing woman, a standing man, and a kneeling man with a tonsured haircut. Below the cross is a human skull.

Gallery Text

This painting, the central portion of a tabernacle, is one of Fra Angelico’s great late private commissions. The kneeling figure, who has taken off his galero, or cardinal’s hat, to pray at the foot of the cross, has been identified as the Spanish cardinal Juan de Torquemada, with whom Fra Angelico was in residence in Rome in the early 1450s. Both artist and patron were Dominican friars and are buried in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome. Adding to the immediacy of the painting, the artist has depicted the cardinal at full scale, with the biblical figures of the Virgin and Saint John at the base of the cross. Adam’s skull marks the site of the Crucifixion, known as Golgotha. The Tree of Life, springing from the top, contains a pelican puncturing its breast to feed its offspring, a gesture symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice for mankind.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Fra Angelico, Italian (nr. Vecchio, Italy c. 1400 - 1455 Rome, Italy)
Christ on the Cross, the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist, and Cardinal Torquemada
Work Type
c. 1453-1454
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Tuscany, Florence
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Tempera on panel
96.6 x 42.5 x 6.5 cm (38 1/16 x 16 3/4 x 2 9/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Louis Charles Timbal (1821-1880), Paris, acquired in Bologna, by descent; to Noël Valois, Paris, by 1904. [Durlacher Brothers, London], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1921

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Hervey E. Wetzel Bequest Fund
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

  • Noel Valois, "Fra Angelico et le Cardinal Jean de Torquemada", Recueil de Mémoires, Société des Antiquaires de France (Paris, 1904), repr. as pl. XXIV
  • Tancred Borenius, "A Fra Angelico for Harvard", The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (November 1921), Vol. 39, No. 224, pp. 202, 208-211, repr. pp. 202 and 208
  • Frederick W. Coburn, "In the World of Art", Boston Sunday Herald (December 11, 1921), repr.
  • The Fogg Art Museum and the Division of the Fine Arts of Harvard University, brochure (Cambridge, MA, May 25, 1922), repr.
  • "Dooley Perceives Art Appreciation Moving to West: Transcript Editor Points to Cleveland Painting Exhibit as Evidence", Boston Transcript (Boston, July 23, 1936)
  • Catalogue of the Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art: The Official Art Exhibition of the Great Lakes Exposition, exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, 1936), pp. 50-51, cat. no. 113, repr. as plate XVIII
  • Fiske Kimball and Lionello Venturi, Great Paintings in America: One Hundred and One Masterpieces in Color, Coward McCann (New York, 1948), p. 32, cat. no. 10, repr.
  • Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, 1950), cat. no. 2
  • Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 4
  • 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. 9
  • John Pope-Hennessey, Fra Angelico, Phaidon Press (London, 1974), pp. 37, 218-219, repr. as pl. 141 and fig. 41
  • Everett Fahy, "Italian Painting Before 1500", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 377-388, p. 386-387, repr. p. 385 as pl. II, [fig. 10 p. 386 repr. a lost panel]
  • Christopher Lloyd, Fra Angelico, Phaidon (London, 1979), plate 48, repr.
  • John D. Morse, Old Master Paintings in North America, Abbeville Press (New Work, 1979), pp. 10-11, repr. p. 10
  • 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. 166, p. 148, repr.
  • 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), p. 36, color plate; p. 97, 302, repr. b/w cat. no. 560
  • James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 164-5
  • "High-Tech Renaissance", Museums Boston (Winter 1997-1998), p. 21, repr.
  • Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), p. 14, repr. as fig. 4
  • Betsy Rosasco, "'The Mystical Crucifixion': A Dominican Picture?", Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University (2003), vol. 62, pp. 51-68, p. 58, repr. in b/w as fig. 7
  • Matthew Gurewitsch, "Fra Angelico Finally Gets his Retrospective", The Wall Street Journal (November 9 2005), p. D16, p. D16
  • Neville Rowley, "Le ambiguità dell'Angelico", Prospettiva (2005), 119-120, 156-164, p. 161
  • Laurence Kanter and Pia Palladino, Fra Angelico, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 2005), no. 39, pp. 223-225, repr. in color
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), ill. p. 57
  • Laurence Kanter, Reconstructing the Renaissance: "Saint James Freeing Hermogenes", Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, 2008), pp. 3-5, repr. p. 5 as fig. 4
  • Gerardo de Simone, Beato Angelico: L'alba del Rinascimento, exh. cat. (Rome, 2009), ill. p. 138, pp. 140-141
  • Laurence Kanter and John Marciari, Italian Painting from the Richard L. Feigen Collection, exh. cat., Yale University Art Museum/Yale University Press (New Haven, 2010), under cat. no. 23, pp. 80-82, fig. 1
  • Carl Brandon Strehlke, Fra Angelico and the Rise of the Florentine Renaissance, exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado (Madrid, 2019), pp. 44, 48, 217-218, repr. p. 44 as fig. 17 and p. 48 as fig. 48.1

Exhibition History

  • The Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art: The Official Art Exhibition of the Great Lakes Exposition, Cleveland Museum of Art, 06/26/1936 - 10/04/1936
  • The Diamond Jubilee, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 11/04/1950 - 02/11/1951
  • Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977
  • Fra Angelico, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/24/2005 - 01/30/2006
  • Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013
  • 32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights
  • Google Art Project

Related Works

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