The Christ Pantocrator
A rare work of art from the Late Middle Ages made using the delicate, precious technique of cloisonné enamel
The work, exhibited in the second room of the Cybo Apartment is made with enamel on copper: the glass pastes of the coloured enamels are inserted inside cavities obtained in the metal through a cantilevered process. It was created by an anonymous 13th-century master. Although stylistically it borrows from Byzantine art, it also demonstrates subtle volumes and proportions, indicating broader stylistic influences. As such, modern scholars tend to attribute the work to an artist from central-southern Italy.
This piece represents a solemn, severe Christ Pantocrator. The Saviour holds the New Testament in his left hand while he makes the gesture of blessing with his right hand. The blessing gesture comes from Greek art: the ring finger and thumb held together represent the union of the dual nature of Christ: human and divine.
Found in the Roman area of the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, this Christ was long kept at the Kircherian Museum at the Roman College. It later became part of the collection of the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, and its transfer to Palazzo Venezia took place in 1936.
Ritrovato nell’area romana di Santa Maria in Trastevere, il Cristo rimase a lungo nel Museum Kircherianum al Collegio Romano, per poi confluire nelle raccolte del Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo: l’arrivo a Palazzo Venezia cade nel 1936.