Catalogue entry

T03736 Crucifix c.1913

Hoptonwood stone 17 3/4 × 6 3/4 × 1 1/2 (455 × 175 × 38)
Inscribed ‘O. E. FELICEM’ at foot of cross
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: Frank Rinder; presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Sculpture, by Mrs F. Rinder in memory of her husband, 1938 (A.10–1938)
Exh: ?Eric Gill, Goupil Gallery, January 1914 (10) (possibly included); Eric Gill, Dartington Cider Press Centre, Dartington, July–August 1979, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, October–November 1979; Strict Delight, the Life and Work of Eric Gill, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, March–April 1980 (S 1)

The first carving of this subject by Gill is the Tate Gallery's ‘Crucifixion’ of 1910 (N03563). Gill was not converted to the Roman Catholic church until three years later, and this first crucifixion is unconventional both for the choice of the inscriptions and for its pairing with a relief of a female nude.

After his conversion Gill carved several crucifixions and small crucifixes. T03736 resembles one of his earliest wood engravings, made in 1913 (Christopher Skelton, The Engravings of Eric Gill, 1983, p.16 and p.xviii) and it is probably of the same date. His diaries record that he carved a crucifix in Hoptonwood stone between 19 April and 2 May 1913 (William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles). The print does not have the inscription at the foot, but the pose and proportions, and the emaciated figure, are similar. Skelton records that the wooden block of this print was made as a plaque, and offered for sale at a bookshop in London belonging to Everard Meynell. Gill had known Meynell from 1912 when he sought his advice about Roman Catholicism. Meynell lent a crucifix of Hoptonwood stone by Gill to his exhibition at the Goupil Gallery in January 1914, which may be this one. It is not known when Frank Rinder acquired T03736, but he was in contact with Gill at least by 1918, when he commissioned from him an inscription for a holy water stoup (Evan R. Gill, The Inscriptional Work of Eric Gill an Inventory, 1964, 350).

The letters of the inscription are painted red.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986