Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer

ca. 1750

Hardwood, original polychromy and remnants of later overpainting
Height 52 cm



The dying Christ was fixed to the cross (which has not survived) with four nails. Despite his torment, his posture conveys an almost dancing, floating lightness. The proportions of the head as well as the distended body are anatomically distorted in a manner that Heightens their dramatic quality. Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer’s idiosyncratic vocabulary of forms is also apparent in the twofold depiction of the left hip, the way that the chest and costal arch have been pulled apart and the direct transition from the ribs to the hip on the right. Equally characteristic of his work are the powerful leg and arm muscles, hard lumps of muscle in the sides, elongated muscles bulging above the ribs, and the left side of the waist, which looks as if it has had grooves cut into it with a milling tool. The face—likewise asymmetrically distorted—with its open mouth is marked by suffering.

An unusual motif is the depiction of the wound on the left shoulder, where a piece of torn skin hangs down as a bloody flap. The knowledge of Christ’s shoulder wound and the devotional contemplation of it, documented from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, are based on a vision experienced by St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090/91–1106/07). He is supposed to have asked Christ which of his unknown wounds was the most painful. Christ answered that it was the wound on the shoulder on which he had carried the cross.

Feuchtmayer came from a Southern German family of sculptors and took over his father’s workshop in Mimmenhausen in 1718. He dominated artistic production in the region around Lake Constance with his work for churches and monasteries such as the famous pilgrimage church at Birnau or the palace chapel on the island of Mainau.