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Painting and Graphic Art

Altar cross from St. Katharinental Convent

Key data

Lake Constance area; ca. 1250–1270

Beechwood, vellum, moulded stucco with gilding, rock crystal, two gems, blue glass;

Corpus: tempera on chalk-primed canvas

H 99.3 cm, W 67 cm

Inv. 1905.70.


Having originally belonged to the Dominican convent of St. Katharinental near Diessenhofen in Canton Thurgau, this altar cross is remarkable for the highly unusual style of its portrayal of Christ. The cross is one of a very small number of German crosses with a painted corpus dating from the Late Romanesque period. Its early dating is based on the date of the convent’s founding in 1251 and on similar crosses found in illuminated books. One such miniature in the Besançon Psalter features a similar depiction of the crucified Christ and has been dated ca. 1260. The same type informed Thuringian and Saxon miniaturism and the crucifixion scene of the retable of St. Mary’s Church in Soest.

Selection of similar objects


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