Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves: 'The Three Crosses'


The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

Rembrandt’s <em>Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves</em> is executed entirely in drypoint. Because of the delicacy of the technique, the copper plate was worn after the artist printed about 40 impressions of the first three states. In order to continue using the plate, Rembrandt reworked it, changing the image somewhat. In this fourth state, slashing strokes obscure the spectators visible in the earlier version, creating a tenebrous setting that focuses attention on Christ bathed in celestial light. Although drypoint is an inherently linear medium, Rembrandt used it to obtain tonal qualities associated with painting. The blackness becomes an active force that threatens to extinguish the light of Christ—a literal illustration of the Evangelist Luke’s description of the event that brought "a darkness over all the earth."

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  • Title: Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves: 'The Three Crosses'
  • Creator: Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669)
  • Date Created: 1653-c.1660
  • Physical Dimensions: Sheet: 37.5 x 44 cm (14 3/4 x 17 5/16 in.)
  • Type: Print
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1959.241
  • Medium: drypoint
  • State of work: iv/v
  • Inscriptions: VERSO, lower left, in graphite: 301 C ; lower left, in graphite: 21805 ; lower left, in graphite: [?]35 ; lower left, in pen and brown ink: #[turned 45% with dots top, bottom, and at the two sides] ://:
  • Fun Fact: When he printed this impression, Rembrandt deliberately left ink on the printing plate, specifically on the left and right sides, essentially creating a unique work.
  • Department: Prints
  • Culture: Rembrandt, 17th century
  • Credit Line: Bequest of Ralph King and Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
  • Collection: PR - Drypoint
  • Accession Number: 1959.241

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