Wienhausen, Effigy of Christ
Original Country
Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony)
Sorting Title
Wienhausen, Effigy of Christ

This sculpture represents Christ prepared for burial. Since the commission of the sarcophagus by Abbess Katherina von Hoya in the fifteenth century, this figure has been displayed in this way.

Creation Date
circa 1290; 1449
13th, 15th
247 x 58 x 30 cm (effigy); 252 x 80.5 x 172 (sarcophagus)
Format Medium


Original Location


Historical Context

The effigy of Christ dates from the thirteenth century. The nuns of Wienhausen probably used this figure in the Easter ritual of the Depositio and Elevatio. The figure was probably also used in their performance of the Visit of the three Marys to the tomb on Easter morn, the Visitatio sepulchri. At some point, the side wound in the effigy of Christ was widened, perhaps in order to bury the host on Black Friday. Originally, precious stones were mounted around the nimbus, and golden crosses (some of which can still be detected faintly) decorated Christ's shroud. The effigy was probably created in a workshop in the neighboring town of L√ľneburg. An opening in the head was used to house a relic as was another in the feet, although the particular relics kept here remain unknown. The sarcophagus was commissioned by Abbess Katherina von Hoya in 1449. The effigy of Christ has been displayed within the sarcophagus since this time. Scenes painted on the interior of the sarcophagus depict the narrative of Christ's life and Passion. The sarcophagus expressed a slightly altered use of this figure in the context of a reliquary. Other relics were kept within the sarcophagus.

Patrons and Others

Abbess Katherina von Hoya

Related Work
Descriptive Notes

The original location of this figure within the convent is unclear. Babette Hartwieg argues that the other images from Wienhausen that seem to depict this effigy of Christ may provide insight into its original context. The figure of Christ is always portrayed from the same angle and perhaps originally lay on a stone sarcophagus. (See related works). Hartwieg further suggests that the figure was on display throughout the year, not only at Easter. Such effigies were used throughout Europe; approximately 60 are still extant. A brownish coating on the effigy of Christ suggests that either the figure had some sort of preservative medium placed on it (in the same sense as furnisher polish) or that the nuns practiced a ritual annointing of the figure. Furthermore, graffiti on the frontal arm of the figure may hint at the presence of pilgrims(Hartwieg, 207). Drei gefasste Holzskulpturen vom Ende des 13. Jahrhunderts in Kloster Wienhausen

Current Repository


Photo Credit
Kloster Wienhausen

Abbess Renate von Randow; Wolfgang Brandis

Image of Wienhausen, Effigy of Christ.