Martin Hoffmann, Basle, ca. 1525
height 43 cm
In its moving expression of suffering this representation of the dead Christ ranks among the finest of Basle's Late Gothic sculptures to survive. The original cross and the arms of Christ, which were fixed to the torso with dowels, are lacking. The original location of the crucifix was the church of Courrendlin near Delemont in the Swiss Jura. A number of comparable works, including two busts of Prophets in Basle town hall, support the attribution to the woodcarver and joiner Martin Hoffmann. Having come from Stollberg in Thuringia, Hoffmann became a guild member in Basle in 1507 and lived in the city until his death in 1530. During the years before the Reformation, the likely date of the crucifix, he suffered from shortage of commissions. In 1526 he petitioned the town council of Basle against the stricter guild regulations which, for reasons of competition, forbade woodcarvers to follow their earlier practice of employing journeymen joiners.