A Terracotta Group by Clodion Acquired by the Ashmolean Museum

Claude Michel, dit Clodion (1738-1814)
Christ on the Cross with Saint John and the Virgin. 1785
Terracotta - H. 68 cm
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum
Photo : Ashmolean Museum

13/11/11 - Acquisition - Oxford, Ashmolean Museum - A terracotta group by Clodion representing Christ on the Cross with Saint John and the Virgin (ill.), had been on loan to the Ashmolean Museum since 2003. The Oxford institution has now purchased it, through Gurr Johns Ltd., for the sum of 234,000 £ with the help of, notably, The Art Fund.

This is a model for the golden lead Crucifixion commissioned in 1785 to stand atop the neo-Classical rood screen of the Rouen cathedral built a few years earlier. The ensemble also included two altars each decorated with a relief and respectively, two statues by, Félix Lecomte (The Virgin) and Clodion (Sainte Cécile, 1777) placed above, but the whole presentation was dismantled in 1884. The figures of Saint John and the Virgin [1] disappeared and the Christ, heavily damaged by the bombings in 1944 (see a photograph after the disaster), underwent an extensive restoration.

The sculptures on this rood screen represent Clodion’s most important religious commission. At a time when neo-Classicism was at its peak, the artist produced a work which was in fact strongly influenced by Roman Baroque art.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 14 novembre 2011


[1] In the 1992 catalogue for the Clodion retrospective at the Louvre, Guilhem Scherf identified the woman at the foot of the Cross as Saint Mary Magdalene. The Ashmolean refers to it as the Virgin Mary, no doubt correctly as it seems more plausible.

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