Francesco Terilli - Crucifix, about 1600

Francesco Terilli (active Feltre, 1610 - 1633)

Crucifix, about 1600

Ivory on a wood cross and base, 83 cm (32 11/16 in.) overall


Object details

Accession number



Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner through the painter and collector, Ralph W. Curtis (1854-1922), in Venice, for about 400 francs, a price which included a hanging silver lamp, in December 1884.


Signed on back of the perizonium: F.T.

Dimension Notes

Total height: 83 cm Corpus: 28 x 24 cm


Alan Chong and Giovanna De Appolonia. The Art of the Cross: Medieval and Renaissance Piety in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2001), pp. 7, 17 ill., 18 fig. 4, 19, 20, 27 n. 1 and n. 5, 35 fig. 14, 37, 99-102, cat. 16, fig. b. (as Francesco Terilli and dated to about 1600, after the artist's earliest signed work of 1596)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), p. 110, ill.
Elizabeth Anne McCauley et al. Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Venice: Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, 2004), pp. 78, 79 fig. 53, 86 n. 156-57.

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Ivory is an ideal material for small devotional sculptures: its resiliency permits fine detailing while its natural translucency imparts a gleaming aura to objects. Terilli specialized in carving ivory crucifixes: at least eight survive. They date from around 1600 onwards, placing them at the beginning of the Baroque taste for ivory crucifixes, which became especially strong in Flanders and southern Germany in the course of the seventeenth century.

Ralph Curtis found this crucifix in Venice for Mrs. Gardner. She placed it in her boudoir in her Beacon Street house. At Fenway Court it was placed on the altar in the Long Gallery Chapel, in front of the Soissons window.

Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 110.