Dating back to the 1600s from a private home in France, this rare piece tells an intriguing story. Carved from a single piece of oak wood, it depicts a cherub lifting up a bishop figure wearing an upside-down cross. Historically, this symbol has been attributed to symbolize humility and devotion to the faith, reflecting the virtues and spiritual ideals associated with Saint Peter's martyrdom. The symbol originates from the Catholic tradition that when sentenced to death, Peter requested that his cross be upside down, as he felt unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as Jesus.
Conversely, the inverted cross could be seen as a symbol indicating the figure has renounced his faith or possibly symbolize rebellion or opposition to established norms. It is important to note that symbols can hold different meanings to different individuals and may evolve over time. The ambiguous nature of symbols allows for personal interpretation and can spark discussions and debates about their significance within specific contexts.
Note the missing arms serve as a visual representation of personal tragedy of the original owners of the piece. Traditionally, an arms would have been cut off intentionally after the loss of a family member. It can be seen as a metaphor for the emotional and psychological -literally being "disarmed" and unable to fend off the pain and sadness.
This seventeenth-century piece not only serves as a historical artifact but also holds the potential to be a unique and compelling conversation piece in any space. Its intricately carved details, symbolic elements, and the narrative it conveys make it a captivating piece of art.
By embracing historical artifacts and art pieces that challenge our understanding and prompt further inquiry, we can appreciate the complex and multifaceted nature of symbolism in art. The lingering ambiguity surrounding the upside-down cross in this piece ensures its ongoing significance and invites ongoing interpretation and dialogue.
Condition and wear consistent with age and use.
Approx. overall 21¼" high x 13½" wide x 6" deep
Approx. overall 54cm high x 34cm wide x 15cm deep