The Virgin and Saint John, from a Crucifixion

Unknown maker, Germanabout 1420

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

This pair of figures present at Christ's crucifixion and closest to him in life-the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist-are bent forward, fraught with grief. Bold strokes of black paint emphasize their bowed heads, downcast eyes, and sorrowful expressions. Mary and John's gestures indicate resignation at Christ's death, but also resolute faith in God despite their sorrow: Mary clasps her hands in prayer, and Saint John holds his Gospel.

These two sections are all that remain of a stained-glass window that once featured a life-size figure of Christ on the cross. The panels' monumentality suggests their probable location in a cathedral. The presence of stained glass in such a public setting was a dramatic way to communicate beliefs about the nature of God. Although Christ is not shown, the presence of these spiritual yet human figures powerfully conveys the impact of his death.


  • Title: The Virgin and Saint John, from a Crucifixion
  • Creator: Unknown maker, German
  • Date: about 1420
  • Location Created: Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: 58.5 x 50 x 1 cm (23 1/16 x 19 11/16 x 3/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Dark brown vitreous paint, colored pot metal and clear glass, silver stain
  • Object Type: Stained glass
  • Number: 2003.35
  • Culture: German (?)
  • Classification: Decorative Arts

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