Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1617-1682
Christ on the Cross, 1660-70
Oil on canvas, 208.9 x 113 cm (82-1/4 x 44-1/2 in.)
In this late painting by Murillo, the luminous figure of Christ appears against an ominous sky. Below him, at the left, the outlines of the city of Jerusalem are visible within the shadowy mists. According to Christian doctrine, Christ's sacrifice on the cross brought about the possibility of man's redemption from the original sin of Adam. The skull at the base of the cross suggests Golgotha, meaning "the place of the cross", the area of Jerusalem where the crucifixion occurred. The inscription at the top of the cross reads "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."
Kaunitz collection, Vienna, 1820
Purchased at auction March 13, 1820  by Count Johann Rudolf Czernin (1757–1845), until 1845
By descent to Count Franz Czernin (d. 1932), Czernin collection, Vienna, until 1932
By descent to Count Eugen Czernin von Chudenitz (1892–1955), until 1955 
Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1955 
 Probable date of sale
 According to the Art Loss Register, the collection of Count Jaromir Czernin, Vienna, was subject to looting by the Nazi regime. While this might be the case, Jaromir had dealt extensively with Nazi authorities––eventually selling Vermeer’s The Art of Painting to Hitler––and his claims for restitution have been often discredited. The Timken’s Murillo, however, belonged not to Count Jaromir, but rather to his uncle, Eugen Czernin von Chudenitz (also a count), who apparently made no claims of wartime looting. The painting was exhibited as part of the Czernin collection, with the permission of Count Eugen, in 1951 (Sion [Valais], Switzerland, Musée de la Majorie, 1951, La Collection Czernin de Vienne, no. 27, with cat. entries after Wilczek, 1936). This clearly establishes continuity of legitimate ownership through the Nazi era.
 An undated note in the Timken file suggests that Wildenstein handled the transaction.