Painted Crucifix

2nd half of 15th century
Ducal Palace, Urbino, Italy

The pelican, believed to feed its young with its own blood, is used here as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice of himself for the salvation of mankind, in turn symbolized by the skull at the bottom. The "hill" on which the cross is planted represents Calvary. The treatment of the corpus itself is in line with High Medieval practice, emphasizing pathos by showing Jesus dead, his arms sagging from the weight of the body, and his loins clad in a simple tied cloth.

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More of the pelican symbol

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.