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Shrine with the compositions The Crucifixion and Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

Author: Andrius Bairiūnas
Material:wood, tinplate
Technique:carving, colour paint
Dimensions:160 × 80 cm

carved date on the crosspiece under the shrine: 1901

Cross 160 × 80, shrine 98 × 43. Figures: Christ H 30.5, St Mary Magdalene H 17.5, Our Lady of Sorrows H 29, Kneeling Christ H 22
Gastilonys, Kaišiadorys district

Andrius Bairiūnas lived and worked near Taurakiemis (in the Kaunas district) at the turn of the 20th century, but his works have been found in other areas too. He carved hanging crosses, with large shrines fixed to the crosspiece overshadowing the crosses, a style which was common in Suvalkija. Inside them were crucifixes or Crucifixion scenes. Tin flowers, a decoration characteristic of shrines in the Suvalkija and Dzūkija regions, were included on both sides of the Crucifix. Architectural and floral motifs were often painted in bright colours on the back wall.

This shrine by Bairiūnas is distinguished by its size and its luxuriance, incorporating two scenes from the Passion, ‘The Crucifixion’ and ‘Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives’. Jesus is portrayed on the Mount of Olives in the lower part, in front of a cup circled by rays (an indication of suffering and Redemption). Most of the shrine above it portrays the Crucifixion. The Crucifix stands on Golgotha (indicated by Adam’s skull at the foot of the cross), and the grieving Virgin is standing beside the cross. St Mary Magdalene is kneeling at the foot and embracing the cross, and Jerusalem is portrayed in the background. The upper part of the shrine is surrounded by rays highlighting the culmination of Jesus’ suffering. The shrine is dated 1901, and therefore this luxurious work is believed to mark the anniversary of the beginning of Christianity. Bairiūnas produced more cross-type shrines of a smaller size and in a similar style, but this particular work is distinguished by its large size, construction and splendour, and is unique not only in the work of this craftsman, but also in the context of Lithuanian cross-crafting.

Text author Skaidrė Urbonienė

Source: Law firm Valiunas Ellex art album HEAVEN AND BEYOND (2016). Compiler Dalia Vasiliūnienė. Text authors Dalia Vasiliūnienė, Skaidrė Urbonienė
Expositions: “Heaven and Beyond. Works of religious art from the collection of Rolandas Valiūnas and the law firm Valiunas Ellex“, 31 May–24 September 2016, Church Heritage Museum, Vilnius (curators Dalia Vasiliūnienė, Skaidrė Urbonienė)