0078 Pathos – the Bodies of Christ on the Cross

Rhetoric of Suffering in Wooden Sculpture Found in Portugal, Twelfth-Fourteenth Centuries. A Few Examples

  • Carla Varela Fernandes (Author)
    Centro de Estudos em Arqueologia, Artes e Ciências do Património (UC)/ Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia


    Carla Varela Fernandes has a degree in History of Art at Lisbon University (1993), where she presented her master thesis dedicated to Gothic Sculpture in Coimbra (1998) and her PhD thesis consecrated to the Iconology of the Royal Portuguese Family (12th to 14th centuries). She holds now a post-doc. fellowship granted by the FCT. She is an integrated member of Centro de Estudos de Arqueologia, Artes e Ciências do Património.

    She took part in several research projects and is now investigator of the project "Artists, patrons and audiences. Catalonia and the Mediterranean (11th-15th centuries)", MAGISTRI CATALONIAE, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Having published articles in scientific reviews, she is the author of books and co-author of several books and exhibition catalogues.

Identifiers (Article)


In Portuguese medieval art, freestanding wooden sculptures representing Christ on the Cross are among the less studied typologies. For this reason, it is important to discuss and question some of the most representative works of aesthetic values and/or iconographic models that characterised this European production between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The option for the Christus patiens typology is justified by the fact that it includes a large number of sculptures, some still requiring analysis and reflection, with the possibility of bringing to light new elements through fresh comparisons or using laboratory-based findings. The examples analysed here demonstrate the existence of artistic models reflecting the importance offoreign formal and iconographic references, which in turn raise the issues of the import and/or reinterpretation by Portuguese sculptors of these ideas, and of the itinerancy of foreign sculptors through Portugal, locating this corpus within an international historiographical discussion.


Pathos, Crucified Christ, Deposition, Wood sculpture, Romanesque, Gothic, Medieval, Portuguese art