This bronze has been called the most beautiful of many crucifixes ascribed to Pietro Tacca, including examples at the royal monastery of the Escorial in Spain and at the cathedrals of Prato and Pisa. Tacca, son of a marble merchant from Carrara, mastered bronze in Florence as a principal assistant to Giovanni Bologna, whom he succeeded in 1609 as sculptor to the Grand Duke. Although the twisting pose reflects the elegance of the celebrated older master, Tacca's personal pursuit of realism and pathos is revealed in the gaunt figure with protruding bones and also in flesh pushed up by nails, bulging closed eyes, and an aggressively spiky crown of thorns.
on banner at top of cross: INRI
Probably made for, or contemporaneously purchased for, Church of S. Maria degli Angeli, Pistoia [convent suppressed 1867, church closed 1886]; art market, Florence, early 1900s; purchased by Count Giorgio Piccolomini Adami [d. 1943], Siena; by inheritance to Contessa Piccolomini, Siena; private collection, Rome, by 1954; private collection, Switzerland, by 1958; purchased 1968 by (Heim Gallery, London); Angus Hood, England; purchased 13 May 1974 through (Heim Gallery, London) by NGA.
- Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts: Sculpture, Drawings, Prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1974, no. II, repro.
- Torriti, Piero. Pietro Tacca da Carrara. Genova, 1984: 91, 93 - 96, repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 295, repro.
- Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 223, repro.
- National Gallery of Art Special Issue. Connaissance des Arts. Paris, 2000:61.
- Baldry Beccatini, Francesca. Il Crocifisso di Pietro Tacca a Settignano. Restauro di un’inedita cartapesta policroma. Florence, 2001: 24-25, repro.
- Montigiani, Vanessa. In Franca Falletti, ed. Pietro Tacca. Carrara, La Toscana, le grandi corti europee. Exh. cat. Carrara, Centro internazionale delle arti plastiche, 2007: 88-90, repro., n. 100-101.