Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655, oil on canvas, 35 5/8 x 22 1/16 in. (90.5 x 56 cm), Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 70-1
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Fig. 1. Benedictus Arias Montanus (Spanish, ca. 1527–1598), Peter Laicksteen (Dutch, active ca. 1556–1570), and Frans (Franciscus) Hogenburg (South Netherlandish, German, ca. 1538–1590), Antiquae Ierusalem (Map of Ancient Jerusalem), 1604, engraving on paper, 5 5/16 x 6 13/16 in. (13.5 x 17.3 cm), in Juan Baptista Villalpando and Jerónimo de Prado, Apparatus Urbis Ac Templi Hierosolymitani, vol. 3 (Rome: Illefonsus Ciacconius, 1604), Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
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Fig. 2. Philippe de Champaigne, Dead Christ on the Cross, 1655, oil on canvas, 89 3/8 x 79 1/2 in. (227 x 202 cm), Ville de Grenoble / Musée de Grenoble, M.G. 60. Photo: J. L. Lacroix
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Fig. 3. François de Poilly (1622/23–1693), after Philippe de Champaigne, The Dead Christ on the Cross, 17th century, engraving on three sheets, 40 15/16 x 24 7/16 in. (104 x 62 cm), Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA, Gift of K. J. Magnuson, M19866
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Fig. 4. Jan Boeckhorst (Flemish, 1605–1668), Christ on the Cross, ca. 1640, oil on panel, 41 3/4 x 29 1/2 in. (106 x 75 cm), private collection
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Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655

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doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204

ArtistPhilippe de Champaigne, French, 1602–1674
TitleChrist on the Cross
Object Dateca. 1655
Alternate and Variant TitlesLe Christ sur la croix; Crucifixion; Le Christ mort en croix
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions (Unframed)35 5/8 × 22 1/16 in. (90.5 × 56 cm)
InscriptionInscribed verso (no longer visible due to relining): Voor myne beminde suster / Marie de Champaigne-Religieuse / Brussel[s?]
Credit LineThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 70-1
Catalogue Entry

curatorial

Citation

Chicago:

Rima M. Girnius, “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” catalogue entry in French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022), https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.204.5407.

MLA:

Girnius, Rima M. “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” catalogue entry. French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, edited by Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022. doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204.5407.

In this deeply poignant painting, Philippe de Champaigne gives visual and persuasive form to one of the central mysteries of the Christian faith: the willingness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to suffer death for the sins of humanity. Champaigne depicts the crucified Christ alone on a rocky outcropping lined with dense vegetation, overlooking a panoramic view of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Dark, foreboding clouds crown the landscape, forming an almost impenetrable background that throws Christ’s torso into strong relief. Shown moments after his death, Christ’s figure appears upright, his bruised body presented for contemplation. Blood streams from the wounds on his side, hands, and feet, cascading down the crisp folds of his loincloth and the base of the cross to soak the ground beneath him. A network of fine lines on his chest—marks of the brutal flogging he received before his crucifixion—draw further attention to the physical torment he endured on behalf of humankind. Notwithstanding these visible signs of his agony, Christ remains an idealized figure. A beam of light bathes his body in a silvery radiance, illuminating not only his injuries but also the elegant proportions and musculature of his meticulously modeled body. His calm facial expression—head cast down, eyes closed—imparts a sense of dignity to the scene and, along with the faintly glowing halo, reveals his divine status as the Son of God.

Sober in its treatment yet deeply emotional in its impact, the painting exhibits a narrative clarity and pictorial restraint that has often been attributed to Champaigne’s close relationship with Jansenism. A controversial reform movement within the Catholic Church, Jansenism emphasized humankind’s inability to attain salvation without divine aid and insisted on pursuing a life devoid of worldly distractions.1For an overview on Jansenism and its role in seventeenth-century French cultural and political life, see Henry Phillips, Church and Culture in Seventeenth-Century France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 16; and F. Ellen Weaver-Laporte, “Jansenism,” in Grove Art Online, 2003, accessed August 6, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T043395. Much has been written about the artist’s connections with this movement and whether his work reveals a specific “Jansenist” aesthetic. As early as 1837, literary critic Charles Augustin Saint-Beuve linked Champaigne’s “calm, sober, dense, and serious” paintings with Jansenist spirituality and piety.2“Sa peinture calme, sobre, serrée, sérieuse.” Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Port Royal, 4th ed. (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1876), 1:26; quoted in Anne Bertrand, Art and Politics in Counter-Reformation Paris: The Case of Philippe de Champaigne and his Patrons (1621–1674) (PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2001), 79. The artist had close ties with the most important Jansenist center in France, the Cistercian abbey of Port-Royal-des-Champs. His two daughters entered the abbey’s school in 1648, and he earned numerous commissions to paint works for the Port Royal community.3Bernard Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre (Paris: Léonce Laget Libraire, 1976), 1:160. Indeed, one of the most well-known stories about Champaigne is that his daughter Catherine de Sainte Suzanne was miraculously healed from a paralysis that had lasted for two years when, in 1662, the Abbess at Port-Royal prayed for Catherine’s healing. Champaigne was inspired to commemorate this event by painting Mère Catherine Agnes Arnauld and Soeur Catherine de Sainte Suzanne (1662; Musée du Louvre, Paris). Leading scholars caution against interpreting Champaigne solely through the lens of his Jansenist affiliation, but they acknowledge that his work can be understood within the larger context of Catholic beliefs and practices as defined by the Council of TrentCouncil of Trent: A council of the Roman Catholic Church, held in in the city of Trent, Italy, in three parts from 1545 to 1563, that responded to the doctrinal challenges of the Protestants. It played a key part in the Counter-Reformation and played a vital role in revitalizing the Roman Catholic Church in many parts of Europe. See also Counter-Reformation..4Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:161; Lorenzo Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne: “Philippe, homme sage et vertueux”: Essai sur l’art et l’œuvre de Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674) (Tournai: La Renaissance du Livre, 2002), 228; Alain Tapié, “L’art de l’âme,” in Alain Tapié and Pierre-Nicolas Sainte-Fare-Garnot, eds., Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674): Entre politique et dévotion, exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2007), 37–47. As Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc observes, Champaigne cannot be regarded simply as a Jansenist painter, since Jansenism did not exist as a homogenous movement, nor did it break away from Catholicism.5Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc, “Le jansénisme et les arts” in Cojannot-Le Blanc, ed., Philippe de Champaigne ou la figure du peintre janséniste: Lecture critique des rapports entre Port-Royal et les arts (Paris:  Nolin, 2011), 9.

Such an approach is appropriate for Champaigne’s depiction of the crucified Christ in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The unflinching focus on the figure of Christ and his physical suffering was in line with traditional Catholic ideas, affected by the Reformation and the Council of Trent, regarding the use of images as aids to religious instruction and devotion. Spiritual manuals by mystics such as François de Sales espoused a method of prayer that encouraged imaginative participation in the events of Christ’s life, meant to lead to a deeper understanding of the self and of the divine.6Richard Viladesau, The Pathos of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts—The Baroque Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 20, 24–25, 36–39. External images played a significant role within these meditative practices by activating the senses and stirring the hearts and minds of the faithful.7Wietse de Boer and Christine Göttler, “Introduction: The Sacred and the Senses in an Age of Reform,” in Boer and Göttler, eds.,Religion and the Senses in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill,2015), 1–13; Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Sensuous Worship: Jesuits and the Art of the Early Catholic Reformation in Germany (Princeton,NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002). Key figures of the Counter-ReformationCounter-Reformation: A period lasting about one hundred years from about 1545 (the opening of the Council of Trent) to 1648 (the end of the Thirty Years’ War), when the Roman Catholic church responded to doctrinal challenges from the Protestant Reformation and revitalized its own spirituality and morality. See also Council of Trent., most notably Johannes Molanus and Gabriele Paleotti, published treatises that provided specific direction on how sacred images could fulfill this important function. They insisted that, for the benefit of the faithful, religious works of art should be simple, readily intelligible, and easy to grasp, with no superfluous details. To that end, they privileged scriptural accuracy and promoted naturalism as a means of opening a pathway toward spiritual contemplation.8The body of research on the Council of Trent’s decrees on art and their interpretation by Paleotti and Molanus is vast. Christian Hecht provides a good overview in Katholische Bildertheologie im Zeitalter von Gegenreformation und Barock: Studien zu Traktaten von Johannes Molanus, Gabriele Paleotti und Anderen Autoren (Berlin: Mann, 1997). See also the English edition of Gabrielle Paleotti’s text, which features an introduction by Paoli Prodi: Gabrielle Paleotti, Discourse on Sacred and Profane Images, trans. William McCuaig (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2012). On Molanus, see David Freedberg, “Johannes Molanus on Provocative Paintings,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 34 (1971): 115–50.

Fig. 1. Benedictus Arias Montanus (Spanish, ca. 1527–1598), Peter Laicksteen (Dutch, active ca. 1556–1570), and Frans (Franciscus) Hogenburg (South Netherlandish, German, ca. 1538–1590), Antiquae Ierusalem (Map of Ancient Jerusalem), 1604, engraving on paper, 5 5/16 x 6 13/16 in. (13.5 x 17.3 cm), in Juan Baptista Villalpando and Jerónimo de Prado, Apparatus Urbis Ac Templi Hierosolymitani, vol. 3 (Rome: Illefonsus Ciacconius, 1604), Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Fig. 1. Benedictus Arias Montanus (Spanish, ca. 1527–1598), Peter Laicksteen (Dutch, active ca. 1556–1570), and Frans (Franciscus) Hogenburg (South Netherlandish, German, ca. 1538–1590), Antiquae Ierusalem (Map of Ancient Jerusalem), 1604, engraving on paper, 5 5/16 x 6 13/16 in. (13.5 x 17.3 cm), in Juan Baptista Villalpando and Jerónimo de Prado, Apparatus Urbis Ac Templi Hierosolymitani, vol. 3 (Rome: Illefonsus Ciacconius, 1604), Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
The Counter-Reformation’s preoccupation with truth and verisimilitude are qualities that characterize Philippe de Champaigne’s approach to religious art. Although the extent to which he followed these critical interpretations of religious texts is open to debate, Bernard Dorival’s analysis of the contents of Philippe de Champaigne’s library reveals a preponderance of diverse religious texts.9Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:80–81. For a more extended analysis, see Bernard Dorival, “La bibliothèque de Philippe et de Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne,” Chroniques de Port-Royal 19 (1971): 26, 34. In their reviews of Dorival’s 1976 catalogue raisonné, Ann Sutherland Harris and Anthony Blunt question the plausibility of some of Dorival’s arguments regarding Champaigne’s use of literary sources. Ann Sutherland Harris, review of Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre, by Bernard Dorival, Art Bulletin 61, no. 2 (June 1979): 320; Anthony Blunt, “A New Book on Philippe de Champaigne,” review of Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre, by Bernard Dorival,” Burlington Magazine 119, no. 893 (August 1977): 575. This demonstrates not only Champaigne’s theological erudition, but also his receptiveness to various sources. Among these was Ezechielem Explanationes et Apparatus Urbis, ac Templi Hierosolymitani (Ezekiel’s Explanations and Apparatus of the City and Temple of Jerusalem, 1596–1604), a three-volume scriptural interpretation of the Book of Ezekiel by Jesuits Juan Baptista Villalpando and Jerónimo de Prado.10Olan A. Rand, “Philippe de Champaigne and the Concept of Archeological Accuracy in Painting,” in Actas del XXIII Congreso Internacional de Historia del Arte (Granada: University of Granada,1978), 3:213–21. Villalpando and Prado’s text describes the design and reconstruction of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, and the accompanying illustration (Fig. 1) probably inspired Champaigne’s view, in the Nelson-Atkins painting, of the holy city and the pyramidal tomb of Isaiah.11Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:76–78 Champaigne’s readiness to depict archeological details faithfully demonstrates an interest in rendering the sacred narrative with greater precision. Additional features of the painting similarly reveal Champaigne’s fidelity to scripture. The foreboding sky that isolates the figure of Christ refers explicitly to Gospel accounts of the darkness that fell over the land following his death (Matthew 27:45, Mark 25:33, and Luke 23:44).12Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:74. Similarly, the paper titulus, a sign bearing the condemned person’s name and crime fixed to upper part of the cross, includes the inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, as described in John 19:20.

Fig. 2. Philippe de Champaigne, Dead Christ on the Cross, 1655, oil on canvas, 89 3/8 x 79 1/2 in. (227 x 202 cm), Ville de Grenoble / Musée de Grenoble, M.G. 60. Photo: J. L. Lacroix
Fig. 2. Philippe de Champaigne, Dead Christ on the Cross, 1655, oil on canvas, 89 3/8 x 79 1/2 in. (227 x 202 cm), Ville de Grenoble / Musée de Grenoble, M.G. 60. Photo: J. L. Lacroix
Champaigne, however, was not uncompromising in his approach to sacred subject matter. As Lorenzo Pericolo astutely observes, Champaigne occasionally ignored iconographic conventions and omitted historical details when seeking to enhance the devotional impact of an image.13Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne, 265–66. A comparison with Champaigne’s other scenes of Christ’s Crucifixion underscores his flexibility. The Christ on the Cross in Kansas City is one of six autograph versions that portray Christ with his head hung down in death; an additional two depict Christ alive, with his eyes raised toward heaven in supplication. Despite general similarities in composition and overall effect, all versions vary in size and in detail. The smaller versions may have functioned as either preparatory sketches or finished reductions of the larger works.14Pierre Rosenberg, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections, exh. cat. (New York:Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982), 236. The Nelson-Atkins Crucifixion is most frequently identified as a replica of one of the two larger versions: one in a private collection in Toulouse15Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 2:385–86; Alain Tapié and Nicolas Sainte Fare Garno, Entre politique et dévotion, 244–45. and the other in the Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture in Grenoble (Fig. 2).16Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne, 311n20; Gilles Chomer, Peintures françaises avant 1815: La collection du Musée de Grenoble (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2000), 64. The Toulouse painting, known mainly through an engraved reproduction by François de Poilly (1622/23–1693), shares many characteristics with the Kansas City version but differs in the placement of the wound on the far side of Christ’s torso (Fig. 3). The Grenoble painting, commissioned by the Carthusian monastery of La Grande Chartreuse, incorporates elements absent from the Nelson-Atkins version. Most notable is the use of three nails instead of four to fix Christ to the cross,17According to Émile Mâle, it was common to see three and four nails in Crucifixion scenes. Émile Mâle, L’Art religieux après le Concile de Trente: étude iconographique de la fin du XVIe siècle, du XVIIe, du XVIIIe; Italie, France, Espagne, Flandres (Paris: A.Colin, 1932), 270–71. the depiction of the eclipse described by Luke (23:44), and the presence of a skull that refers to Christ as the second Adam. The Grenoble painting is the only other version that depicts Christ’s wound fully exposed by the beam of light, although the wound emits significantly less blood.

Fig. 3. François de Poilly (1622/23–1693), after Philippe de Champaigne, The Dead Christ on the Cross, 17th century, engraving on three sheets, 40 15/16 x 24 7/16 in. (104 x 62 cm), Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA, Gift of K. J. Magnuson, M19866
Fig. 3. François de Poilly (1622/23–1693), after Philippe de Champaigne, The Dead Christ on the Cross, 17th century, engraving on three sheets, 40 15/16 x 24 7/16 in. (104 x 62 cm), Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA, Gift of K. J. Magnuson, M19866
These differences render it difficult to determine the precise sequence of the series and the relationship between the Nelson-Atkins Crucifixion and the other versions. Scholars Alfred and Ronald Cohen have suggested that Champaigne may have adopted ideas from both the Toulouse and Grenoble paintings to create a composite version intended for private, familial use.18Alfred Cohen and Ronald Cohen, Trafalgar Galleries XII (London: Trafalgar Fine Art Publications, 1993), 34. The early provenance of the Kansas City painting suggests that this might be the case. An inscription found on the verso of the original canvas indicates that the artist likely gave the painting to his sister Marie de Champaigne (1606–1665)19The inscription was discovered on June 5, 1969, when the original canvas was relined by Francis Moro, a painting restorer employed by the dealer Frederick Mont, who at the time was in possession of the painting. Although no photograph of the original inscription was found, the conservator transcribed the dedication, which is in both Flemish and French and reads: “Voor myne beminde suster / Marie de Champaigne–Religieuse / Brussel[s?]” (For my beloved sister / Marie de Champaigne-Nun / Brussels). when he visited Brussels in 1655.20The date of Philippe de Champaigne’s visit is contested. According to his contemporary André Félibien, the Brussels visit took place in 1654. See André Félibien, Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes (Paris, 1685), 5:175–76. Pericolo, however, argues that Félibien may have mistaken the date and it should be 1655; see Pericolo,Philippe de Champaigne, 273. Little is known about her life except that she entered a beguinage (a home for lay religious women) in Brussels on September 3, 1641,21“Marie/a Jampaine.” List of Beguines, 1628–1798, no. 21806, church archives of Brabant, Royal Archives, Brussels. and remained there until her death on December 11, 1665.22The birth and death dates are provided by Anne-Marie Bonenfant-Feytmans, “Un tableau inconnu de Philippe de Champaigne: Proposition d’identification,” Bulletin (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels) 34–37, nos. 1–3 (1985–1988): 147. Since scholars have not discovered a posthumous inventory of her possessions or other property-related documents, the subsequent history of the painting remains unclear. The painting only reappeared in 1968, for sale at the Palais Galliera in Paris.23Aquarelles et Tableaux Modernes; Dessins et Tableaux Anciens; Objets d’Art et d’Ameublement Principalement du XVIIIe Siècle; Sièges et Meubles des époques Régence—Louis XV–Louis XVI; Tapisseries Anciennes (Paris: Palais Galliera, 1968), unpaginated, as attributed to Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ sur la croix.

Without sufficient documentary evidence, attempts to clarify the nature of Marie de Champaigne’s religious devotions are speculative at best. Recent studies of beguinages in the Low Countries, however, reveal general trends in their use of religious imagery that might provide some insight. Beguinages were semi-monastic communities where women took temporary vows of chastity and obedience but maintained financial independence and were able to retain property. A study of the art that adorned the homes of Beguines in Antwerp’s Beguinage of St. Catherine discloses a substantial number of scenes from Christ’s PassionPassion of Christ: The sequence of events encompassing Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his suffering, death, and ultimately his resurrection., including several Crucifixions.24Sarah Moran, “Bringing the Counter-Reformation Home: The Domestic Use of Artworks at the Antwerp Beguinage in the Seventeenth Century,” Simiolus 38, no. 3 (2015–2016): 148–51. These range in material from two-dimensional crucifixes to works on paper and a painting by Flemish artist Jan Boeckhorst (ca. 1604–1668). As Sarah Moran points out, the abundance of Passion imagery was not unusual and was wholly in keeping with the beliefs and devotional practices promoted by the Counter-Reformation.25Moran, “Bringing the Counter-Reformation Home,” 151–52. Moran is questioning the argument made by other scholars that Beguines showed a marked preference for works of art and devotional texts that linger on the physical details of Christ’s suffering as a human being. See Xander van Eck, “Between Restraint and Excess: The Decoration of the Church of the Great Beguinage at Mechelen in the Seventeenth Century,” Simiolus 28 (2000–2001): 129–62; Hans Geybels, Vulgaritiner Beghinae: Eight Centuries of Beguine History in the Low Countries (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004), 82–85, 125–27.

Fig. 4. Jan Boeckhorst (Flemish, 1605–1668), Christ on the Cross, ca. 1640, oil on panel, 41 3/4 x 29 1/2 in. (106 x 75 cm), private collection
Fig. 4. Jan Boeckhorst (Flemish, 1605–1668), Christ on the Cross, ca. 1640, oil on panel, 41 3/4 x 29 1/2 in. (106 x 75 cm), private collection
Sober depictions of Christ alone on the cross, without the distraction of a crowd of onlookers and mourners, like Champaigne’s, were widespread during the Counter-Reformation. Examples by Jan Boeckhorst (Fig. 4), Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640), and Francisco de Zurbarán (Spanish, 1598–1664) demonstrate how such compositions helped satisfy the contemplative needs of faithful Catholics throughout Europe. Isolated against a darkened sky or background, these Crucifixions grant the viewer privileged access to Christ’s suffering. In the case of Christ on the Cross at the Nelson-Atkins, Champaigne’s ability to capture the frigid hue of Christ’s lifeless body and the blood spilling from his wounds provides the scene with a sense of lifelike immediacy that invites meditation. So does its restrained emotional power, the cool color palette, and the overall atmosphere of stillness that pervades the scene. Naturalistic in detail yet stylized in effect, Champaigne’s Christ on the Cross resembles a crucifix, a timeless and easily recognizable symbol of sacrifice and redemption. We can only speculate about the religious beliefs and practices of Champaigne and his Beguine sister, but a recent treatment report of the painting provides insight into the painting’s lasting spiritual impact: modern fingerprints were found along Christ’s body, serving as a testament to the power and persuasiveness of Champaigne’s presentation.26See treatment report by Mary Schafer, Nelson-Atkins paintings conservator, November 12, 2012, NAMA conservation files. Schafer removed the modern fingerprints from the varnish layer of the composition.

Rima M. Girnius
July 2020

Notes

  1. For an overview on Jansenism and its role in seventeenth-century French cultural and political life, see Henry Phillips, Church and Culture in Seventeenth-Century France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 16; and F. Ellen Weaver-Laporte, “Jansenism,” in Grove Art Online, 2003, accessed August 6, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article. T043395.

  2. “Sa peinture calme, sobre, serrée, sérieuse.” Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Port Royal, 4th ed. (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1876), 1:26; quoted in Anne Bertrand, Art and Politics in Counter-Reformation Paris: The Case of Philippe de Champaigne and his Patrons (1621–1674) (PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2001), 79.

  3. Bernard Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre (Paris: Léonce Laget Libraire, 1976), 1:160. Indeed, one of the most well-known stories about Champaigne is that his daughter Catherine de Sainte Suzanne was miraculously healed from a paralysis that had lasted for two years when, in 1662, the Abbess at Port-Royal prayed for Catherine’s healing. Champaigne was inspired to commemorate this event by painting Mère Catherine Agnes Arnauld and Soeur Catherine de Sainte Suzanne (1662; Musée du Louvre, Paris).

  4. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:161; Lorenzo Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne: “Philippe, homme sage et vertueux”: Essai sur l’art et l’œuvre de Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674) (Tournai: La Renaissance du Livre, 2002), 228; Alain Tapié, “L’art de l’âme,” in Alain Tapié and Pierre-Nicolas Sainte-Fare-Garnot, eds., Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674): Entre politique et dévotion, exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2007), 37–47.

  5. Marianne Cojannot-Le Blanc, “Le jansénisme et les arts” in Cojannot-Le Blanc, ed., Philippe de Champaigne ou la figure du peintre janséniste: Lecture critique des rapports entre Port-Royal et les arts (Paris: Nolin, 2011), 9.

  6. Richard Viladesau, The Pathos of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts—The Baroque Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 20, 24–25, 36–39.

  7. Wietse de Boer and Christine Göttler, “Introduction: The Sacred and the Senses in an Age of Reform,” in Boer and Göttler, eds., Religion and the Senses in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 1–13; Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Sensuous Worship: Jesuits and the Art of the Early Catholic Reformation in Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002).

  8. The body of research on the Council of Trent’s decrees on art and their interpretation by Paleotti and Molanus is vast. Christian Hecht provides a good overview in Katholische Bildertheologie im Zeitalter von Gegenreformation und Barock: Studien zu Traktaten von Johannes Molanus, Gabriele Paleotti und Anderen Autoren (Berlin: Mann, 1997). See also the English edition of Gabrielle Paleotti’s text, which features an introduction by Paoli Prodi: Gabrielle Paleotti, Discourse on Sacred and Profane Images, trans. William McCuaig (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2012). On Molanus, see David Freedberg, “Johannes Molanus on Provocative Paintings,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 34 (1971): 115–50.

  9. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:80–81. For a more extended analysis, see Bernard Dorival, “La bibliothèque de Philippe et de Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne,” Chroniques de Port-Royal 19 (1971): 26, 34. In their reviews of Dorival’s 1976 catalogue raisonné, Ann Sutherland Harris and Anthony Blunt question the plausibility of some of Dorival’s arguments regarding Champaigne’s use of literary sources. Ann Sutherland Harris, review of Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre, by Bernard Dorival, Art Bulletin 61, no. 2 (June 1979): 320; Anthony Blunt, “A New Book on Philippe de Champaigne,” review of Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre, by Bernard Dorival,” Burlington Magazine 119, no. 893 (August 1977): 575.

  10. Olan A. Rand, “Philippe de Champaigne and the Concept of Archeological Accuracy in Painting,” in Actas del XXIII Congreso Internacional de Historia del Arte (Granada: University of Granada, 1978), 3:213–21.

  11. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:76–78

  12. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1:74.

  13. Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne, 265–66.

  14. Pierre Rosenberg, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982), 236.

  15. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 2:385–86; Alain Tapié and Nicolas Sainte Fare Garno, Entre politique et dévotion, 244–45.

  16. Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne, 311n20; Gilles Chomer, Peintures françaises avant 1815: La collection du Musée de Grenoble (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2000), 64.

  17. According to Émile Mâle, it was common to see three and four nails in Crucifixion scenes. Émile Mâle, L’Art religieux après le Concile de Trente: étude iconographique de la fin du XVIe siècle, du XVIIe, du XVIIIe; Italie, France, Espagne, Flandres (Paris: A. Colin, 1932), 270–71.

  18. Alfred Cohen and Ronald Cohen, Trafalgar Galleries XII (London: Trafalgar Fine Art Publications, 1993), 34.

  19. The inscription was discovered on June 5, 1969, when the original canvas was relined by Francis Moro, a painting restorer employed by the dealer Frederick Mont, who at the time was in possession of the painting. Although no photograph of the original inscription was found, the conservator transcribed the dedication, which is in both Flemish and French and reads: “Voor myne beminde suster / Marie de Champaigne–Religieuse / Brussel[s?]” (For my beloved sister / Marie de Champaigne–Nun / Brussels).

  20. The date of Philippe de Champaigne’s visit is contested. According to his contemporary André Félibien, the Brussels visit took place in 1654. See André Félibien, Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes (Paris, 1685), 5:175–76. Pericolo, however, argues that Félibien may have mistaken the date and it should be 1655; see Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne, 273.

  21. “Marie/a Jampaine.” List of Beguines, 1628–1798, no. 21806, church archives of Brabant, Royal Archives, Brussels.

  22. The birth and death dates are provided by Anne-Marie Bonenfant-Feytmans, “Un tableau inconnu de Philippe de Champaigne: Proposition d’identification,” Bulletin (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels) 34–37, nos. 1–3 (1985–1988): 147.

  23. Aquarelles et Tableaux Modernes; Dessins et Tableaux Anciens; Objets d’Art et d’Ameublement Principalement du XVIIIe Siècle; Sièges et Meubles des époques Régence—Louis XV–Louis XVI; Tapisseries Anciennes (Paris: Palais Galliera, 1968), unpaginated, as attributed to Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ sur la croix.

  24. Sarah Moran, “Bringing the Counter-Reformation Home: The Domestic Use of Artworks at the Antwerp Beguinage in the Seventeenth Century,” Simiolus 38, no. 3 (2015–2016): 148–51. These range in material from two-dimensional crucifixes to works on paper and a painting by Flemish artist Jan Boeckhorst (ca. 1604–1668).

  25. Moran, “Bringing the Counter-Reformation Home,” 151–52. Moran is questioning the argument made by other scholars that Beguines showed a marked preference for works of art and devotional texts that linger on the physical details of Christ’s suffering as a human being. See Xander van Eck, “Between Restraint and Excess: The Decoration of the Church of the Great Beguinage at Mechelen in the Seventeenth Century,” Simiolus 28 (2000–2001): 129–62; Hans Geybels, Vulgaritiner Beghinae: Eight Centuries of Beguine History in the Low Countries (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004), 82–85, 125–27.

  26. See treatment report by Mary Schafer, Nelson-Atkins paintings conservator, November 12, 2012, Nelson-Atkins conservation files. Schafer removed the modern fingerprints from the varnish layer of the composition.

Technical Entry
Technical entry forthcoming.

Documentation
Citation

Chicago:

Meghan L. Gray, “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation in French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022), https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

MLA:

Gray, Meghan L. “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation. French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, edited by Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022. doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

Provenance

provenance

Citation

Chicago:

Meghan L. Gray, “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation in French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022), https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

MLA:

Gray, Meghan L. “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation. French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, edited by Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022. doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

Given by the artist to his sister, Marie de Champaigne (1606–1665), Brussels, by December 11, 1665 [1];

Sale, Aquarelles et Tableaux Modernes, Dessins et Tableaux Anciens, Objets d’Art et d’Ameublement Principalement du XVIIIe Siècle, Sièges et Meubles des époques Régence—Louis XV—Louis XVI, Tapisseries Anciennes, Palais Galliera, Paris, October 22, 1968, lot 42, as attributed to Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ sur la croix;

With Frederick Mont, Inc., New York, by May 15, 1969–1970 [2];

Purchased from Mont by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, 1970.

Notes

[1] According to an inscription on the verso of the original canvas, which was subsequently covered by relining, the artist gave the painting to his sister, Marie de Champaigne, a Beguine nun in Brussels.  The inscription, which reads, “Voor myne beminde suster / Marie de Champaigne–Religieuse / Brussels,” was transcribed by Francis Moro, a painting restorer employed by Frederick Mont, Inc., at the time he lined the painting on June 5, 1969. See Nelson-Atkins curatorial files.

[2] Letter from Frederick Mont, Inc., to the Nelson-Atkins on December 11, 1969, states the painting was purchased in Paris by “Fritz” (per Nancy Yeide, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., this was probably Frederick Mont, né Adolf Fritz Mondschein, Vienna, 1894–1994; letter to Meghan Gray, The Nelson-Atkins, December 3, 2012). A restoration record from Paul Moro, Inc., New York, indicates that the painting was owned by Mont when the painting was brought to Moro for restoration on May 15, 1969. See Nelson-Atkins curatorial files.

Related Works

related

Citation

Chicago:

Meghan L. Gray, “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation in French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022), https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

MLA:

Gray, Meghan L. “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation. French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, edited by Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022. doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

Variants with Christ looking down or dead

Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ mort sur la croix (Christ Dead on the Cross), 17th century, oil on panel, 66 15/16 x 36 5/8 in. (170 x 93 cm), private collection, Toulouse.

Philippe de Champaigne, Christ en croix (Christ on the Cross), 1635–1638, oil on canvas, 32 x 22 1/4 in. (81.3 x 56.5 cm), private collection, São Paulo, Brazil.

Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ mort sur la Croix (Christ Dead on the Cross), ca. 1654, oil on canvas, 37 x 27 1/2 in. (94 x 70 cm), Trafalgar Galleries, London.

Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ mort sur la croix (Christ Dead on the Cross), 1655, oil on canvas, 89 3/8 x 79 1/2 in. (227 x 202 cm), Musée de Grenoble.

Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655–1660, oil on canvas, 33 3/16 x 24 15/16 in. (84.3 x 63.3 cm), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Variants with Christ looking up

Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ en croix implorant Le Père (Christ on the Cross Imploring the Father), ca. 1674, oil on canvas, 196 7/8 x 118 1/8 in. (500 x 300 cm), Eglise Saint Pierre, Chaumes-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne), France.

Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ en Croix (Christ on the Cross), 1674, oil on canvas, 89 3/4 x 60 1/4 in. (228 x 153 cm), Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Exhibitions
Citation

Chicago:

Meghan L. Gray, “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation in French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022), https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

MLA:

Gray, Meghan L. “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation. French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, edited by Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022. doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, January 29–April 26, 1982; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 26-August 22, 1982; The Art Institute of Chicago, September 18–November 28, 1982, no. 17, as Christ on the Cross.

References

references

Citation

Chicago:

Meghan L. Gray, “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation in French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, ed. Aimee Marcereau DeGalan (Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022), https://doi.org/10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

MLA:

Gray, Meghan L. “Philippe de Champaigne, Christ on the Cross, ca. 1655,” documentation. French Paintings and Pastels, 1600–1945: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, edited by Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2022. doi: 10.37764/78973.5.204.4033.

Aquarelles et Tableaux Modernes; Dessins et Tableaux Anciens; Objets d’Art et d’Ameublement Principalement du XVIIIe Siècle; Sièges et Meubles des époques Régence—Louis XV—Louis XVI; Tapisseries Anciennes (Paris: Palais Galliera, 1968), unpaginated, (repro.), as attributed to Philippe de Champaigne, Le Christ sur la croix.

“La Chronique des Arts (Supplément à la “Gazette des Beaux-Arts”),” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 77, no. 1225 (February 1971): 73, (repro.), as Crucifixion.

“Recent Accessions of American and Canadian Museums: July–September 1970,” Art Quarterly 34, no. 1 (Spring 1971): 126, 131, (repro.), as Crucifixion.

Bernard Dorival, “Recherches sur les sujets sacrés et allégoriques gravés au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècle d’après Philippe de Champaigne,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 80, nos. 1242–43 (July–August 1972): 33.

Ralph T. Coe, “The Baroque and Rococo in France and Italy,” Apollo, 96, no. 130 (December 1972): 530–531, 533–534, (repro.) [repr., in Denys Sutton, ed., William Rockhill Nelson Gallery, Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City (London: Apollo Magazine, 1972), 62–63, 65–66, (repro.)], as Crucifixion.

Ross E. Taggart and George L. McKenna, eds., Handbook of the Collections in The William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, Missouri, vol. 1, Art of the Occident, 5th ed. (Kansas City, MO: William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, 1973), 108, 128, (repro.), as Crucifixion.

Bernard Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1602–1676: La vie, l’œuvre, et le catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre (Paris: Léonce Laget Libraire, 1976), no. 2044, pp. 1:25n15 (erroneously as no. 2043), 74, 77, 79, 81, 117, 137 (erroneously as no. 90), 138, 141–42, 150 (erroneously as no. 2043), 159 (erroneously as no. 2043), 171; 2:46 (erroneously as no. 2043), 385–86, 516, (repro.), as Le Christ Mort en Croix.

Pierre Rosenberg, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982), 159, 235–36, 349, 378, (repro.), as Christ on the Cross.

Claudette Hould, “Lettre de Paris: La peinture française du 17e siècle dans les collections américaines,” Vie des Arts 27, no. 107 (Summer 1982): 15, (repro.), as Le Christ en croix.

Tom L. Freudenheim, ed., American Museum Guides: Fine Arts; A Critical Handbook to the Finest Collections in the United States (New York: Collier, 1983), 112, as Crucifixion.

Anne-Marie Bonenfant-Feytmans, “Un tableau inconnu de Philippe de Champaigne. Proposition d’identification,” Bulletin (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels) 34–37, no. 1–3 (1985–1988): 147, as Christ en croix.

Christopher Wright, The French Painters of the Seventeenth Century (Boston: Little, Brown, 1985), 154, as Christ on the Cross.

Myron Laskin, Jr. and Michael Pantazzi, eds., European and American Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts, vol. 1, 1300–1800/Text (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1987), 69–70, 355.

Bernard Dorival, Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne (1631–1681): La vie, l’homme et l’art (Paris: Bernard Dorival, 1992), 9, as Christ en croix.

Christopher Wright, The World’s Master Paintings: From the Early Renaissance to the Present Day (London: Routledge, 1992), 1:233, as Crucifixion, and 2:122.

Alfred Cohen, Ronald Cohen, and W. J. Van der Watering, Trafalgar Galleries XII (London: Trafalgar Fine Art Publications, [1993]), 34, 35n1, (repro.).

Roger Ward and Patricia J. Fidler, eds., The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A Handbook of the Collection (New York: Hudson Hills Press, in association with Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1993), 170, (repro.), as Christ on the Cross.

Ronald Cohen and Alfred Cohen, Trafalgar Galleries at Maastricht, exh. cat. (London: Trafalgar Fine Art Publications, 1999), 22–23, (repro.).

J. Bradley Chance and Milton P. Horne, Rereading the Bible: An Introduction to the Biblical Story (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000), 323, (repro.), as Christ on the Cross.

Gilles Chomer, Peintures françaises avant 1815: La collection du Musée de Grenoble (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2000), 64, as Christ mort sur la croix.

Emmanuel Coquery and Anne Piéjus, eds., Figures de la Passion, exh. cat. (Paris: musée de la musique, 2001), 131n6.

Lorenzo Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne: “Philippe, homme sage et vertueux:” Essai sur l’art et l’œuvre de Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674) (Tournai, Belgium: La Renaissance du Livre, 2002), 311n20, as Christ en croix.

Lorenzo Pericolo, “Une ‘Crucifixion’ inédite de Philippe de Champaigne,” Paragone 56, no. 59 (January 2005): 77n4.

Alain Tapié and Nicolas Sainte Fare Garnot, Philippe de Champaigne (1602–1674): Entre politique et dévotion, exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007), 244–45, (repro.), as Le Christ mort sur la Croix.

Deborah Emont Scott, ed., The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A Handbook of the Collection, 7th ed. (Kansas City, MO: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2008), 78, (repro.), as Christ on the Cross.