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Triptych: The Crucifixion

Rogier van der Weyden1443/1445

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Along with Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden dominated Netherlandish painting in Brussels in the first half of the 15th century, working both for the Burgundian court as well as for the urban patriciate. We know that in 1450 he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome. The Vienna painting, however, was created before this journey to Italy, which in the following century was to set the standard for artistic training. Today this Crucifixion scene is spread across a winged altar, but it was probably originally a single panel, with the “frame” only painted on to it. Not long after it was created, however, the work was sawn into three parts, making the portraits of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Veronica wings of a triptych. Given its original condition, it makes van der Weyden’s artistic innovation even more significant: for the first time he unites all of the participants – the Crucifixion group, saints and the donors – in front of a continuous landscape, in which an idealised Jerusalem appears on the horizon. The realism of such a unified space had never been attempted in earlier works. Unknown today, the patrons are separated only by a conspicuous fissure in the ground from the central subject of religious contemplation, a concept that was so progressive that it was initially attenuated in the paintings of the period that followed. For along time afterwards, the donors, accompanied by their patron saints, were depicted on the wings of the altar. And there is a second innovation as well: Christ’s loincloth, which seems to be blowing in the breeze. It became a motif frequently employed in Netherlandish and German painting. © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

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Details

  • Title: Triptych: The Crucifixion
  • Creator: Rogier van der Weyden
  • Date Created: 1443/1445
  • Style: Early Netherlendish
  • Provenance: Collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm
  • Inventory Number: GG 901
  • Artist Biography: Rogier van der Weyden's early training and occupation are unknown; in his twenty-seventh year, he entered the workshop of Robert Campin, the dean of the painters' guild of Tournai. Rogier remained Campin's assistant for five years and then became an independent master in the guild. From Campin, Rogier adopted the detailed realism that characterizes his works. At age thirty-six Rogier settled in Brussels, his wife's native city. Soon, the city council made him city painter, which led to numerous public and private commissions. Rogier operated a large workshop with many assistants, including his son Pieter, who succeeded him as city painter in Brussels. Rogier quickly established an international reputation and received many commissions from foreign dignitaries. He spent a year in Italy, where he painted for distinguished families such as the Este in Ferrara and the Medici in Florence. Rogier's impact extended far beyond his immediate circle of artists; his dramatic, highly emotional paintings influenced every Netherlandish painter of the following generation. ©J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Type: paintings
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/picture-gallery
  • Medium: Oil on Wood

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