Artist:   Chester Cornett  (1913-1981) 

Circa 1970  

11 3/4”  Carved Mahogany Figure


This figure a commission from a collector who also had a table and six chairs by the artist. Curiously Cornett often selected mahogany for his more elaborate chairs as seen here with the Christ figure. Here two 1” planks were laminated so to fully carve the figure excepting the front half of the feet which are applied in walnut. The outstretched arms are integral to the body not having been applied. An ark he built for a perceived future flooding of the earth had a life size crucified Jesus cresting the bow of the vessel. See a support image of that figure or possibly a replica made by Cornett. Ironically the ark was destroyed in a flood with the crucification possibly saved where now at The Museum Of American Folk Art in NYC. Seems to be a conflict of provenance wether that one the survivor or another which the artist made to copy the lost original. This small example a high waisted compressed torso form showing the rib cage much like the painted one now at the museum. The atypical leg position, feet not overlapping, is too shared with the larger figure. Our’s now mounted on a later turned walnut base with the cross removed. Seems this disassociation may have occurred soon after made as the walnut plugged holes on the reverse have an aged patina as does the turned base. Perhaps the previous owner wished to be spared the gruesome spectacle of a crucification and asked Cornett to reconfigure without the cross. The agonized expression and arm positions remain. Wonder if the former owner envisioned their commission to be one of Jesus on a better day.

Condition: One hand has lost all fingers with only the thumb remaining. The other hand has lost the pinkie finger. Plugged holes on the reverse presumedly from removal of fasteners where once attached a cross. Front of feet at the arch a possible replacement for they are carved from walnut as are the plugs on the reverse. Surface with a natural aged patina. Now and when made without a finish.