Corpus of Jesus carving No. 2, Portugal, c. 1800

Sir Raffles Art & History is Charles Mandel’s collection of antique Santos and ethnographic collectibles, mostly carved wood. See current selection on Etsy:

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General: Wood carved corpus of Jesus from a crucifix.

Condition: 11 and 3/8″” in length. Missing arms, some losses. Remaining polychrome colors are strong. Likely boxwood.

Comments: If you are not very familiar with collecting Catholic religious art you may find it odd that people collect corpus figures that are missing the arms. Enthusiasts will attest, however, that they make stunning and unusual displays. I have an entire wall of them on display illustrating different styles and time periods. This particular piece is from Portugal and is representative of the style and quality found in common homes.

Most modern corpus carvings are dainty when it comes to handling the blood from Jesus’ wounds. This piece is representative of the former emphasis on the gruesome wounds that Christ suffered.

Whatever the culture, there can be no more important art than that used as an aid for communicating with the divine. I have always found devotional artifacts fascinating to collect; there is no better way to connect with a past culture than through the objects that were important to it. Collecting santos figures is particularly gratifying. The subject, the style and the methods of production combine to tell the tale of what the individuals in that culture valued.



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