Christ and Him crucified

This gallery aims to show the unique depiction, portrayal, and artistic evolution of Christ's crucifixion during the High Renaissance period.

This magnificent portrayal of the scene of Christ’s crucifixion is certainly the most grandiose and furthest reaching of those in this gallery. Although the garb and architecture is certainly not accurate to the time period of Christ’s death, the depth of field and scale of this piece is simply astounding. I think this majestic and emotional depiction of the crucifixion perfectly sums up the essence of Christianity in the High Renaissance.
What I love most about this piece is the use of color, texture, and tone. The scene is much “rougher” than most in this gallery and brings the viewer into a very somber state. Particularly, the darkness of the palate and skewed body of the thief to Christ’s right. The emphasis on Christ’s pale body in the center of the frame is very pronounced as well as his mother and followers weeping at his feet.
In sharp contrast to some of the other more majestic scenes in this gallery, I loved the deep pain and yet victorious strength portrayed in this piece. The emotion depicted on the women's face (as well as their halos) give a very sober yet almost complacent and confident feel to Christ's death. It is interesting to note that Christ's halo is starting to fade as he slowly slips into death. This is also the first piece to highlight the inscription hung above Christ’s head at the crucifixion, INRI: the Latin abbreviation to “Jesus (Iesus) of Nazareth (Nazarenus), King (Rex) of the Jews (Iudaeorum).”
This piece shows a lot of similar to themes to the previous pieces but demonstrates a very unique use of emphasis. Instead of Christ being a different color than his followers, killers, and fellow criminals, he is slightly larger. There is also a much deeper sense of chaos, despair, grief, and pain in the faces of the crowd. The rhythm and movement of this piece is very striking and really brings the viewer into the emotion of that day.
One of the things that has fascinated me the most with these pieces is that the women at Jesus’ feet are portrayed nearly without fail. In this era, they seem to be as integral to the scene as Christ is himself. This piece in particular highlights the rest of the crowd returning home as the deed has been finished. As in most of the other pieces, bones are scattered around the ground and Christ’s side is pierced showing that the scene is postmortem. We also see another use of the INRI lettering in this piece as well.
These scene may be the most graphic of the lot. Christ again is shown in contrast to the scene by his complexion and size (as well as the fact that his cross is in a different shape than the other thieves.) This scene in particular is showing one of thieves about to be attacked with a cleaver, both loosely tied and strewn on their crosses. Christ peacefully and compassionately looks down at the crowd and towards the thief as his life is about to be taken. Hands down the most intriguing thing to me about this piece is that the Jewish and political leaders at his feet seem to be conducting business (which is a very fascinating religious and political commentary to make during this era given Rome’s political and religious state.)
Wanting to stray a little farther East geographically, this piece beautifully portrays the difference between the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic interpretations of Christ’s death during this era. This piece, from Hungary, iconically has a more olive complexion to it and has a more traditional use of icons and symbolism (as with the halos.) What strikes me the most about this piece is the ‘humanity of Jesus’ in this piece vs the very Italian ‘holiness of Christ,’ almost separate from the scene, pale, and somber. There is a deep, deep sadness to this painting and it’s hard to look at Christ’s face without wanting to cry yourself. You can feel the women’s (and who I’m assuming is the disciple John’s) gut wrenching despair in this moment. Very powerful!
What struck me the most about this piece was the chaotic and liberal use of color. The richness of the green and pinks of the crowd give a startling contrast to the lifeless bodies of the crucified as well as the bareness of the desert. Again, the garb and architecture is very bizarre for the time of Christ’s death historically but this piece is probably the first to have a very Israeli feel environmentally. Again we see those weeping at Christ’s feet while the rest of the crowd looks very emotionless and the religious and political leaders conduct their business.
Similar to the last piece, I wanted to find something with a unique color scheme. The most striking part of this piece to me is the use of contrast and the deep, deep saturation of the color. The whiteness of the skin and sky glows so strongly against the richness of the women’s clothing, the trees, and even the dirt. Different from a lot of the other pieces, nearly the entire painting takes place in the foreground. As in a lot of the other pieces, we see the women weeping, the INRI plaque, and the bizarre time period and geography of the scene.
As we finish the gallery, I wanted to showcase a piece that focused on the final moments between Christ and his mother. Following a lot of the same queues as the Orthodox piece from earlier, the color palate and symbolism of this piece gives another beautiful view into Christ’s humanity. His frail and shriveled body, laying lifeless in the arms of his mother in sharp contrast to the otherwise luscious, colorful, and thriving city behind them. This piece does a magnificent job of portraying both the deep sadness and humanity of Jesus in this moment as well as leaves the viewer with the hope of new life and resurrection in the background (even a possible wink to the tomb in the left hand side of the frame.) I could study this piece for hours!
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