Joseph Villerme was born in Saint-Claude, Franche Comté, and studied under LeBrun before travelling to Rome. He was noted for his piety, and eventually undertook to carve only crucifixes in either ivory or wood, a number of which entered the collection of the Marchese Pallavicini, who decorated an entire gallery with the sculptor's work. The present lot was discovered by the Marquis de Chennevières in a 'marchands de curiosités' in the Corso, close to the via Vittoria, Rome, in the mid 19th century. It is highly likely that he purchased it and brought it to France where it re-appeared on the market in 1889. In praising the crucifix, the French nobleman said that of all the greatest sculptors of Versailles, the Gobelins, and even Rome, none had succeeded better at translating the art and the faith of his century and his country than the creator of the crucifix (translated from the French text quoted in Dubus, op.cit.).