Artibus et Historiae no. 70 (XXXV)

2014, ISSN 0391-9064

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ELISABETTA FRANCESCUTTI - On Donatello as a Wooad Sculptor in Padua and His Influence (pp. 99–122)

The wooden carved polychrome Crucifix from the Chiesa dei Servi in Padua, attributed to Donatello, has undergone restoration financed by the Italian Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo. As soon as the restoration works are completed, this piece of an excellent artistic quality will be returned to the church community and to the scholars, in a form it has never been seen before.

After a miraculous bleeding of Christ in 1512, this work of art was considered a thaumaturgic relic and was located in the chapel in cornu Evangelii, built at the expense of Bartolomeo Campolongo. It had remained there until it was taken to the restoration laboratory, where a coat of paint imitating bronze – that had covered the sculpture until 2012 – was removed.

This short essay illustrates the most important features of the Crucifix, advances a hypothesis on the date when the bronze coat of paint was introduced and analyzes some practices connected to this object of worship, venerated until the mid-twentieth century: it was preserved in an altar protected by glass and hidden from sight by a curtain.

The study also investigates the problem of how Donatello’s innovative artistic language was received by other contemporary sculptors in Padua, indicating the Crucifix in the Chiesa dei Servi as a model for other surviving examples, in the churches of Santa Croce and Santa Sofia in Padua.

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