Collection Online
The finding of the True Cross
tempera and oil on wood panel
90.0 × 196.5 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1954
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
14th - 16th Century Gallery - Painting & Decorative Arts
Level 1, NGV International
Subjects (general)
Human Figures Religion and Mythology
Subjects (specific)
Christianity crosses (visual works) gold (colour) Helena, Saint Legend of the True Cross (Christian iconography) True Cross (Christian theme)

Relics of the cross upon which Christ died were the most prized of all relics, representing a physical link to the body of the Saviour. The cross itself was said to have been unearthed, along with two others, by Queen Helena, mother of Constantine the Great (c.274/88–337) at the site of Golgotha in Jerusalem. Judas revealed the true cross by using it to miraculously resuscitate a dead youth, a feat that confirmed its holy powers. The wood was brought back to Constantinople where it was coveted by many. This long panel once formed part of an altarpiece at the church of San Francesco in Ascoli Piceno, above a fragment of the cross.


FRAME: Reproduction, 2011

The former framing of the work (see above image) was also shaped to follow the convex curvature of the horizontal planks of timber.  It was fitted to the outer edges of the panel and exposed the 70mm margin along the top edge that originally carried an engaged frame but was subsequently added into the image by extending the gilded and punched background to the top.  This frame was also blended into the surface of the paint by filling and gilding.

The reframing of The finding of the True Cross (c.1516) coincided with the cleaning and restoration of the painting in 2010-12.

The cleaning of the painting revealed the original 70mm framing margin along the top and a new frame was constructed to re-cover this margin, reflect the format of the original framing and re-establish the sense of being 'engaged' with the surface of the work.

The new frame made reference to the frames of the Paris Bordonne and Francia paintings in the NGV collection.

Reproduction - crafted by the NGV

The frame is made from western red cedar using a laminated construction and shaped to follow the convex curvature of the panel.  It is gilded with gold leaf which has been distressed and toned with gouache, watercolour and rottenstone.