Christ Child as Salvator Mundi

Christ Child as Salvator Mundi

unknown artist
Colombia, Peru, Ecuador
Oil paint on canvas
Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard Family

Unknown artist, Christ Child as Salvator Mundi, 1600s. Oil paint on canvas; 20⅝ × 16⅝ in. Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard Family, 1990.326.

canvas height: 20 5/8 in, 52.3875 cm; canvas width: 16 5/8 in, 42.2275 cm; frame height: 25.5 in, 64.7700 cm; frame width: 19 in, 48.2600 cm; frame depth: 3 in, 7.6200 cm
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art

This painting depicts the Christ child as the Salvator Mundi, or Savior of the World. Christ raises his right hand in a gesture of benediction and holds in his left hand a crystal orb surmounted by a gold cross, symbolizing Christ’s triumph over the world and redemption of mankind at the end of time. The subject was popularized in the 1400s by northern European painters such as Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Albrecht Dürer. Over the course of the next several centuries, the image spread across the Catholic world helped by the dissemination of numerous prints throughout Europe and the Americas that illustrated the subject.

While most known depictions of the subject show Christ as a grown man, in this painting he is represented as a child. This variation, however, is also found in several other paintings from the same time period in museums in South America, including one at the Museo de Arte de Lima in Lima, Peru, and another at the Museo Santa Clara in Bogotá, Colombia, suggesting that this image type may have been common in Spanish South America. In addition, the close compositional resemblance between this painting and those in Lima and Bogotá suggest that a print, perhaps an engraving made by the Flemish Wierix family, may have served as the model for all three.

--Sabena Kull, 2017-18 Mayer Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art

Known Provenance
Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.