Mystic Figure of Christ

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Christ sits upon a tree trunk, sheltered within a building that looks like a small chapel with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. He wears the crown of thorns, which was placed upon his head before the Crucifixion. Around his neck is a looped rope, a reminder of the Flagellation (when he was tied up and whipped).

It is unclear whether the picture is supposed to represent a particular moment or a mystical vision of Christ’s sufferings. It presents Christ as a focus for prayer and meditation. His presence in the chapel takes the place of an altar with a religious painting above. Outside, we see an Italian hillside where stags and deer graze.

Cicognara came from a town near Milan but his work is not well-known as he signed very few pictures. He was a painter and manuscript illuminator, and the precision of the details in the landscape and the architecture fits well with an artist used to working on a small scale.

The National Gallery, London



Mystic Figure of Christ


late 15th century


Tempera on wood


H 50.8 x W 33.3 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Layard Bequest, 1916

Work type



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