The Invention of the Cross by Empress Helen

Ricci Sebastiano (1659–1734)

DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg

DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg

Ricci was a notable Venetian painter during the transition from late Baroque to Rococo.

In his Legenda Aurea, the 13th-century chronicler Jacobus de Voragine writes about the discovery of the Holy Cross by St. Helena. After Constantine the Great defeated his rival Maxentius by the power of the Cross, his mother Helena embarked upon a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She caused the Venus temple, erected on the hill where Christ had been crucified, to be destroyed, and had the ground dug up, revealing three crosses. These were placed one after the other on the chest of a recently deceased youth. When the third one was placed on him, he came back to life.

Here Ricci shows the discovery of the Cross and its elevation. Empress Helena, surrounded by her attendants, gazes beatifically on the rediscovered Cross.
The resurrected youth kneels before her in prayer. In the celestial sphere, angels show the instruments of the Passion.

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  • Title: The Invention of the Cross by Empress Helen
  • Creator: Ricci Sebastiano (1659–1734)
  • Physical Dimensions: w73 x h113.5 cm (without frame)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Residenzgalerie Salzburg, Image Fotostudio Ghezzi, Oberalm
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas