The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of March 4, 2024

Crucifix

Crucifix

late 1800s-early 1900s

Did You Know?

This x-shapes of the cross and on Christ's wrapper are forms with symbolic meaning tied to the life cycle in both Catholicism and in the indigenous Kongo religion.

Description

An artist made this crucifix from wood and metal centuries after Catholicism became the Kongo Kingdom’s official faith. Following King Nzinga a Nkuwu's 1491 decision to convert, Kongo Christianity uniquely reflected its surroundings. While early Christ images arrived from Portugal and Italy, this later local example has braids like a Kongo man. Worn smooth by repeated touch, the lower figure is the Virgin Mary or a worshiper knelt in mourning or respect. The x-shape incised into his waist wrapper references the dikenga dia Kongo. This likely pre-Christian symbol diagrams the life cycle's four points.
  • ?–1945
    Charles Ralet, Brussels, Belgium, sold to Jef and René Vanderstraete
    1945-1963
    Jef and René Vanderstraete, Lasne, Belgium, 1959-1963, sold to René and Odette Delenne
    1963–2010
    René [1901-1998] and Odette Delenne [1925-2012], Brussels, Belgium, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    2010–
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • de Borchgrave d'Alténa, J. "Christs de l'ancien Congo." In L'Artisan et les Arts Liturgiques [special issue on Art chrétien du Congo] 18, no. 4 (1949): 378. Reproduced: p. 378, fig. 8
    Leuzinger, Elsy. Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, 270. Exh. Cat. Recklinghausen: Verlag Aurel Bongers, in association with Kunsthaus Zürich, October 31, 1970-February 10, 1971. Reproduced: p. 270, cat. S7
    Bastin, Marie-Louise, et al. Utotombo. L'Art d'Afrique noire dans les collections privées belges: Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles, 25 mars-5 juin 1988, 206. Exh. Cat. Brussels: Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts, March 25-June 5, 1988. Mentioned: p. 64; reproduced: p. 206, cat. 165
    Petridis, Constantine. "René and Odette Delenne." In Tribal Art XV-4, no. 61 (Autumn 2011): 122. Reproduced and mentioned: p. 122, fig. 8
    Petridis, Constantine, et al. Fragments of the Invisible: The René and Odette Delenne Collection of Congo Sculpture. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art. Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2013, 40-41, 108, 112. Reproduced: p. 43; mentioned: pp. 40-41, 108, 112
    Leuzinger, Elsy. Afrikanische Kunstwerke: Kulturen am Niger, 274. Exh. Cat. Recklinghausen: Verlag Aurel Bongers, in association with Villa Hügel, March 25-June 13, 1971. Reproduced: p. 274, cat. no. S 7
  • Fragments of the Invisible: The Rene and Odette Delenne Collection of Congo Sculpture. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (October 27, 2013-February 9, 2014).
    Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, Belgium (1945-1949)
    Leuven, Belgium.
    Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium.
    Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland (October 31, 1970-February 10, 1971)
    Villa Hügel, Essen, Germany (March 25-June 13, 1971)
    Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (March 25-June 5, 1988)
  • {{cite web|title=Crucifix|url=false|author=|year=late 1800s-early 1900s|access-date=04 March 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

Source URL:

https://www.clevelandart.org/art/2010.444