Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

"Cigar Box" Crucifix

ca. 1880-1920 Unidentified carved and varnished wood with ivory figure and porcelain knobs 20 3/8 x 10 5/8 x 3 5/8 in. (51.8 x 26.9 x 9.3 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.91 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 25A

Luce Center Label

“Tramp” art was created from old cigar boxes by tradesmen at the turn of the twentieth century. Craftsmen chip-carved the edges of pieces of wood and layered them together to create furniture, sculptures, and religious objects. The Crown of Thorns Construction (see 1998.84.52) is named because of the interlocking construction technique, which was supposed to represent Jesus’s crown when he was crucified (Helaine Fendelman, Tramp Art, 1975). These objects were not made by vagrants, but by traveling printers, carpenters, and cigar makers who “tramped” from city to city advertising their skills (Lynda Hartigan, Made with Passion, 1990).


Religion - New Testament - Christ

Religion - New Testament - Crucifixion

decorative arts

folk art

ceramic - porcelain



wood - oak