Master of Santa Chiara (Italian)
Unframed - h:61.30 w:44.20 d:2.60 cm (h:24 1/8 w:17 3/8 d:1 inches)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
This cross was originally mounted on a tall pole and carried in religious processions. Therefore, the figures on each side are almost identical. In the center is Christ crucified. Looking on from the elaborate terminals at left and right are the Virgin and St. John. The bottom terminal shows a different saint on each side: St. Francis on one and St. Clare on the other. At the top of each side is an angel. Although one angel looks up and the other down, both express intense grief in their faces and gestures.
The Master of Santa Chiara (St. Clare) is the name given to this unknown artist who painted this and several other works in Assisi. In that city, St. Francis founded an order of friars while St. Clare established a counterpart for women called the Poor Clares. The presence of both saints on this cross suggests that it was made for one of Assisi's Franciscian institutions.