Christ as the Man of Sorrows with the instrument of the Passion thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries

Christ as the Man of Sorrows with the instrument of the Passion

Panel
ca. 1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The complex imagery on this panel reflects many late medieval devotional themes.

The central figure of Christ is of the type known as the Imago Pietatis (‘Image of Pity’), which became popular during the 13th and 14th centuries. Christ is shown half-length emerging from the tomb, displaying the wounds he incurred during his Crucifixion.

Another late medieval devotional theme is Christ as ‘Man of Sorrows’, a phrase taken from Isaiah (53: 3): ‘He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’. Images show the suffering Christ wearing the Crown of Thorns, surrounded by other Instruments of the Passion. They include whips, the nails that pinned him to the Cross, the spear that pierced his side and the sponge full of vinegar he was given to drink. We see all these on this panel, as well as the dice that the soldiers threw to see which of them would win Christ’s robe.

The kneeling figure in the left foreground wears the habit of a Dominican nun. The words on the scroll proclaim her marriage in faith to Jesus Christ, an episode known as the ‘Mystic Marriage of St Catherine of Siena’.

Catherine (about 1347–80) became a nun when she was aged 16. Her visions made her famous, and she used her political and diplomatic skills to help secure the return of the papacy to Rome from Avignon in France. Many thought that this ‘Babylonian Captivity’ meant that the pope had become a mere puppet of the French king. Catherine managed to persuade Pope Gregory XI (1331–78) to return to Rome.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Glass painted with enamels and silver stain
Brief Description
Panel of clear glass painted with enamels and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting a devotional image of Jesus Christ. Switzerland, c.1650.
Physical Description
Panel of painted glass. Christ with the Instruments of the Passion and a donor. Christ is seen displaying his wounds, issuing from an open tomb, with the Cross behind and a variety of emblems on every side; in the foreground the donor, a Dominican nun (perhaps St. Catherine of Siena), kneeling, with a scroll above her inscribed:

'Ego Sponsabo Te Michi in Fide'

Painting in black, brown, red, light blue, green and purple enamel and silver yellow stain.
Dimensions
  • Framed height: 22.5cm
  • Framed width: 19.6cm
  • Framed depth: 3.2cm
  • Sight height: 21.6cm
  • Sight width: 18.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Ego Sponsobo Te Mihi in Fide
Gallery Label
CHRIST AS THE MAN OF SORROWS WITH THE INSTRUMENTS OF THE PASSION Christ is shown standing in the sepulchre, surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion, the causes of his suffering (the Arma Christi). In front of the tomb kneels a Dominican nun, probably the donor, with the inscription EGO SPONSABO TE MICHI IN FIDE ('I am his faithful bride'). Switzerland, probably about 1650 Museum no. C.240-1934; Guthrie Bequest((PW) 2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mr. Walter Guthrie
Historical context
The kneeling figure in the left foreground is dressed in the habit of a Dominican nun. The words on the scroll proclaims her marriage in faith to Jesus Christ; this is known as the 'Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine of Siena'.



Catherine (c.1347-1380) became a nun in the Dominican Order when she was 16. Her visions, which she had from an early age, made her famous and her political and diplomatic skills were instrumental in securing the return of the papacy to Rome.



For much of the 14th century the papal residence was in Avignon in France. Because of violent political upheavals in Rome in the early 14th century, the pope had left and set up in Avignon. This was only meant to be temporary but it dragged on and this period is referred to as the 'Babylonian Captivity'. It had a major effect on the relations between the European rulers and is it was perceived by many that the pope was a mere puppet of the French King.



Catherine managed to persuade Pope Gregory XI (1331-1378) to return to Rome.



The imagery on this panel is complex and reflects many late medieval devotional themes.



The central figure of Christ is of the type known as the 'Imago Pietatis' ('Image of Pity'). This type of imagery became popular in the 13th and 14th centuries but becomes rarer after the 16th century. Christ is shown half-length emerging from the tomb. He displays his wounds.



Another late medieval devotional theme is Christ as 'Man of Sorrows' where we have an image of the suffering Christ, wearing the Crown of Thorns, and surrounded by other Instruments of his Passion.



These Instruments of the Passion ('Arma Christi') are the objects associated with the torments he suffered before and during his Crucifixion. They include whips, the nails he was nailed to the Cross with, the spear that pierced his side and the sponge full of vinegar he was given to drink.



The phrase 'Man of Sorrows' was taken from the writings of Isaiah (53:3) where he says: He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

This was taken as a prophecy of Christ's suffering during his Passion.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The complex imagery on this panel reflects many late medieval devotional themes.



The central figure of Christ is of the type known as the Imago Pietatis (‘Image of Pity’), which became popular during the 13th and 14th centuries. Christ is shown half-length emerging from the tomb, displaying the wounds he incurred during his Crucifixion.



Another late medieval devotional theme is Christ as ‘Man of Sorrows’, a phrase taken from Isaiah (53: 3): ‘He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief’. Images show the suffering Christ wearing the Crown of Thorns, surrounded by other Instruments of the Passion. They include whips, the nails that pinned him to the Cross, the spear that pierced his side and the sponge full of vinegar he was given to drink. We see all these on this panel, as well as the dice that the soldiers threw to see which of them would win Christ’s robe.



The kneeling figure in the left foreground wears the habit of a Dominican nun. The words on the scroll proclaim her marriage in faith to Jesus Christ, an episode known as the ‘Mystic Marriage of St Catherine of Siena’.



Catherine (about 1347–80) became a nun when she was aged 16. Her visions made her famous, and she used her political and diplomatic skills to help secure the return of the papacy to Rome from Avignon in France. Many thought that this ‘Babylonian Captivity’ meant that the pope had become a mere puppet of the French king. Catherine managed to persuade Pope Gregory XI (1331–78) to return to Rome.
Collection
Accession Number
C.240-1934

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record createdMarch 15, 2004
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