Francesco Benaglio, Arma Christi, 1460

Francesco BENAGLIO

(Verona, 1432 – 1492)

Arma Christi


Oil on panel, 59.1 x 35.6 cm


This panel – notable for its dimensions – offers an unusual interpretation of the subject of the Imago Pietatis. As in the early paintings of Giovanni Bellini, the traditional Byzantine image of the acra tapeinosis, referred to by Hans Belting as the “icon of the Passion”, is rendered through a naturalistic depiction, atmospherically clear and outlined against an expansive landscape. Yet what we see is not based on the well-established dramatic closeup – that is, aiming for the beholder’s immediate emotional involvement – but rather an assemblage of the traditional illustrative material of the Instruments of the Passion (the so-called Arma Christi, dating back to the vision of Saint Gregory the Great), laid out in the rocky foreground that extends before the grand tomb, and literally hanging from the red cord that stretches between the two extremities of the horizontal arms of the Cross, in a poetic, anti-conformist invention, almost like laundry on a line.

Condition report:

The painting is in excellent condition.


Count August Cieszkowski (1814-1894), philosopher and economist, was also a collector of paintings, Wierzenica near Poznan;

Dr. Paul Wallraf, Cologne, then London;

Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 30 January 1998, lot 25 (as by Giorgio Chiulinovich, called Schiavone);

There purchased by the private collector from USA;

Private collection, Switzerland.


M. Boskovits and D. Brown, et. al., Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century, Washington D.C. 2003, p. 98, reproduced.


La Biennale Paris – GRAND PALAS – 13 – 17 September 2019

Unknown masterpieces: Italian paintings from the 14th to the 17th century from private collections, Artcentre.Moscow, 2020


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