CHRISTO VIVO, BOXWOOD, 29.8 x 22.4 CM, C. 1625

Christ as ‘Christo vivo’ with his head tilted and wide open eyes looking up to the right. The body is wiry and very naturalistically carved. Christ’s full weight can be felt pulling down on the Cross.

Due to close stylistic features with a crucifix carved by Petel out of ivory, now in the Sammlung Würth, a comparison of the two sculptures can well be made. Fundamentally, however, it must be borne in mind that the harder boxwood is more difficult to carve than ivory. Nevertheless, the stylistic consistencies are obvious. The bodies are both modelled with the same decree of precision and show several common characteristics:

– the posture of the elongated bodies seen from the side;
– the virtually identical modelling of the back muscles;
– the expressive upward gaze, the puckered eyebrows, the open mouths;
– the asymmetrical arms stretching upwards at an angle with the same folds in the skin on the elbows and hands;
– veins that protrude on the arms, legs and neck.

There are also analogies to another work by Georg Petel, the scourging group in the National Museum of Bavaria in Munich, where Petel used wood as well as ivory. In this way, he effectively differentiated between the two henchmen carved in pearwood and the Corpus Christi fashioned in ivory. The delicately ridged puckering of the henchmen’s shirts correspond exactly to the folds on Christ’s loincloth.