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 skull and the "hill" on which the cross is planted represent Calvary, literally "the place of the skull." 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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Read more about crosses and crucifixes and about the pelican symbol.

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