Christus und die beiden Schächer

um 1626, Artist: Leonhard Kern



Christus und die beiden Schächer

Christ hangs on the cross, his body outstretched almost exactly along its vertical and horizontal axes. To his right, the repentant sinner seems to strain towards him gazing at him in expectation, while on his left the unrepentant thief turns away in a contortion of agony. Christ has wrenched his head to the right to announce to the repentant thief: "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" It is this moment - an uncommon motif in German art - on which Leonhard Kern bases his composition. He attempts to accentuate the spatiality of the composition by means of the diagonally placed crossbeams of the thieves' crosses. However it is the figures which form the focus of artistic concentration. They combine technical brilliance in the ivory carving with an extraordinary mastery of anatomy. One of Leonhard Kern's letters reveals that (his knowledge was based on an intensive study of live models. However, Kern does not lose himself in details, but works out basic general forms of an almost cubic structure. The sensitive rendering of the facial expressions and use of emphatic gesture establish the relations between the figures. Thus outstanding achievement of early Baroque German sculpture was made around a decade after the Lamentation relief and was one of the most important works of Kern's later years.

Location: Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien Raum IV

Object data

Object Name

Kruzifix; Statuetten; Elfenbeinschnitzerei


Schwäbisch Hall


um 1626


Leonhard Kern (1588 Forchtenberg - 1662 Schwäbisch Hall) - GND


Elfenbein, Mahagoni


Christus: 36,4 cm × 32,7 cm × 6,6 cm

guter Schächer: 32,6 cm × 18 cm × 6 cm

böser Schächer: 35 cm × 11,7 cm × 6,9 cm

Image rights

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Geistliche Schatzkammer

Inv. No.

Schatzkammer, GS E 4

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