This highly enigmatic and fragmentary wax torso is a relatively finished study for a figure of Christ from an unidentified Crucifixion group. It is interesting not only for its sensitive treatment of the musculature or even the very classical nature of the posture, but the method of its production, which gives an insight into the workings of the artist. An examination of the reverse shows the way in which the wax has been built up in layers with a final thin upper layer used to define finer details. The formation of the drapery shows how the artist has used the wax in a very similar way to terracotta by hand rolling strips and modelling each one into a fold for the drapery.
Just as the drapery has a classical form, the treatment of the musculature is equally antique in flavour. It is almost certain that the sculptor would have seen and studied Greek and Roman statuary, which was common practice for apprentice sculptors of the 16th century. Therefore, in comparing the present lot to antique prototypes such as the Belvedere Antinous and the Belvedere Torso (both in the Musei Vaticani, Rome) one can imagine that this artist may have worked from or been influenced by such prototypes. Both the present lot and the Antinous have a similarly exaggerated contrapposto, which creates a very smooth inverted 's-curve'. The muscles of both torsos are also wide and powerful very much like that of the Belvedere torso but slightly less exaggerated. It is said that Michelangelo was a great admirer of the latter and its is possible to see its influence on him not only in the treatment of the musculature but also in the overall aesthetic which is both subtle and romantic. This point is perhaps best illustrated when looking at a work like The Dying Slave in the Louvre, Paris, where the figure is both dream-like and beautiful but equally full of pathos; the present lot inspires a similar feeling. This might be a result of one's association of the figure with the idea of sacrifice, or perhaps a result of the classical and harmonious treatment of the human form, but it might even be a sense of remorse in seeing the fragmentary remains of a once complete work of art.