Triumphal cross

Very large painted triumphal cross of an indeterminate wood. Made c. 1500 in a regional workshop in Hälsingland, probably that of Haaken Gulleson.

The crucifix shows Christ wearing a short gold and blue loin cloth and a crown of thorns. He hangs limply, arms out straight, pinioned to the cross by three nails. His head has fallen down towards his right shoulder, but the rest of the body is almost entirely straight. His face is framed by long brown hair and a beard, and his eyes are closed. The Latin cross is painted in gold, red, blue and green.

The end caps show the symbols of the four Evangelists: the lion of St Mark, the eagle of St John, the ox of St Luke and the winged human of St Matthew, each with its explanatory ribbon inscription. Behind the head of Christ at intersection of the arms of the cross we see a cross halo. This triumphal cross may possibly be the work of Haaken Gulleson, because it closely resembles the crucifix in Njutånger Church, which definitely came from his workshop. Details common to both crucifixes are the way in which Gulleson shows the blood flowing from the wound in Christ’s side, the folds of the loin cloth, the face and the crown of thorns.

The sculpture shows the suffering Christ, the Man of Sorrows. This way of depicting Christ evolved slowly during the medieval period. Whereas previously the Son of God on the Cross had been depicted as a king victorious, more and more emphasis was gradually placed on his death and suffering. This mode of depiction reflects the increasing preoccupation of Christian piety at this time with Christ as a human being and with his suffering.