Christ On The Cross, The Virgin, Saint John The Evangelist, And Cardinal Torquemada
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This painting, the central portion of a tabernacle, is one of Fra Angelico’s great late private commissions. The kneeling figure, who has taken off his galero, or cardinal’s hat, to pray at the foot of the cross, has been identified as the Spanish cardinal Juan de Torquemada, with whom Fra Angelico was in residence in Rome in the early 1450s. Both artist and patron were Dominican friars and are buried in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome. Adding to the immediacy of the painting, the artist has depicted the cardinal at full scale, with the biblical figures of the Virgin and Saint John at the base of the cross. Adam’s skull marks the site of the Crucifixion, known as Golgotha. The Tree of Life, springing from the top, contains a pelican puncturing its breast to feed its offspring, a gesture symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice for mankind.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1921.34
People
Fra Angelico, Italian (nr. Vecchio, Italy c. 1400 - 1455 Rome, Italy)
Title
Christ on the Cross, the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist, and Cardinal Torquemada
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1453-1454
Places
Creation Place: Europe, Italy, Tuscany, Florence
Culture
Italian
Location
Level 2, Room 2500, European Art, 13th–16th century, Art and Image in Europe
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Tempera on panel
Dimensions
96.6 x 42.5 x 6.5 cm (38 1/16 x 16 3/4 x 2 9/16 in.)
Provenance
Louis Charles Timbal (1821-1880), Paris, acquired in Bologna, by descent; to Noël Valois, Paris, by 1904. [Durlacher Brothers, London], sold; to Harvard Art Museum, 1921
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Hervey E. Wetzel Bequest Fund
Accession Year
1921
Object Number
1921.34
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Noel Valois, Fra Angelico et le Cardinal Jean de Torquemada, Recueil de Mémoires, Société des Antiquaires de France (Paris, 1904), repr. as pl. XXIV

Tancred Borenius, A Fra Angelico for Harvard, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs (November 1921), Vol. 39, No. 224, pp. 202, 208-211, repr. pp. 202 and 208

Frederick W. Coburn, In the World of Art, Boston Sunday Herald (December 11, 1921), repr.

The Fogg Art Museum and the Division of the Fine Arts of Harvard University, brochure (Cambridge, MA, May 25, 1922), repr.

Catalogue of the Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art: The Official Art Exhibition of the Great Lakes Exposition, exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, 1936), pp. 50-51, cat. no. 113, repr. as plate XVIII

Dooley Perceives Art Appreciation Moving to West: Transcript Editor Points to Cleveland Painting Exhibit as Evidence, Boston Transcript (Boston, July 23, 1936)

Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, 1950), cat. no. 2

Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 4

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1972), p. 9

John Pope-Hennessey, Fra Angelico, Phaidon Press (London, 1974), pp. 37, 218-219, repr. as pl. 141 and fig. 41

Everett Fahy, "Italian Painting Before 1500", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 377-388, p. 386-387, repr. p. 385 as pl. II, [fig. 10 p. 386 repr. a lost panel]

Christopher Lloyd, Fra Angelico, Phaidon (London, 1979), plate 48, repr.

John D. Morse, Old Master Paintings in North America, Abbeville Press (New Work, 1979), pp. 10-11, repr. p. 10

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 166, p. 148, repr.

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 36, color plate; p. 97, 302, repr. b/w cat. no. 560

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 164-5

High-Tech Renaissance, Museums Boston (Winter 1997-1998), p. 21, repr.

Chikashi Kitazaki, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, Japan, 2002), p. 14, repr. as fig. 4

Betsy Rosasco, "'The Mystical Crucifixion': A Dominican Picture?", Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University (2003), vol. 62, pp. 51-68, p. 58, repr. in b/w as fig. 7

Matthew Gurewitsch, "Fra Angelico Finally Gets his Retrospective", The Wall Street Journal (November 9 2005), p. D16, p. D16

Neville Rowley, "Le ambiguità dell'Angelico", Prospettiva (2005), 119-120, 156-164, p. 161

Laurence Kanter and Pia Palladino, Fra Angelico, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 2005), no. 39, pp. 223-225, repr. in color

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), ill. p. 57

Laurence Kanter, Reconstructing the Renaissance: "Saint James Freeing Hermogenes", Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, 2008), pp. 3-5, repr. p. 5 as fig. 4

Gerardo de Simone, Beato Angelico: L'alba del Rinascimento, exh. cat. (Rome, 2009), ill. p. 138, pp. 140-141

Laurence Kanter and John Marciari, Italian Painting from the Richard L. Feigen Collection, exh. cat., Yale University Art Museum/Yale University Press (New Haven, 2010), under cat. no. 23, pp. 80-82, fig. 1

Exhibition History

The Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art: The Official Art Exhibition of the Great Lakes Exposition, Cleveland Museum of Art, 06/26/1936 - 10/04/1936

The Diamond Jubilee, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 11/04/1950 - 02/11/1951

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

Fra Angelico, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/24/2005 - 01/30/2006

Re-View: S422-423 Western Art of the Middle Ages & Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/16/2008 - 06/18/2011

Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 2500 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu