Displayed for the last time in 1999, the Crucifix by the Bolognese sculptor Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654) returns on extraordinary display from 14 February in the Vatican Museums Pinacoteca. The work on display is in fact the preparatory model made of clay by the artist for bronze casting. It was donated by Algardi himself in 1653 to Vincenzo Monticelli, rector and chaplain of the church of Santa Marta in the Vatican, where it was placed even before Cristoforo Segni, Pope Innocent's butler, had his burial chapel built to place the work there. The Crucifix remained in the church until 1930 when, following the demolition of the latter, it was transferred to the chapel dedicated to Santa Marta in the Church of the Palace of the Governorate, and from there it arrived in the Pope’s Museums. Unfortunately, all traces of the original bronze have also been lost, although there remains an engraving attributed to the painter Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi depicting the Crucifix in the church of Santi Giovanni e Petronio dei Bolognesi in Rome during the funeral of the Marquis Ludovico Fachinetti. A second version was made for Agostino Franzone and placed in his family chapel in the church of Santi Vittore e Carlo in Genoa in 1677.
The Crucifix will share the evocative space of Room XVII of the Vatican Pinacoteca, in an ideal and symbolic reference, with the terracotta preparatory model for the fusion of the Baptism of Christ also attributed to Algardi. The small model illustrates the Bolognese sculptor’s predilection for clay and for the small models he worked on from the beginning of his career.