Pine panel, oil and gold background
Dimensions: h. 63 cm, w. 42 cm
Our rare panel imbued with all the Gothic symbolism, presents one of the subjects that has become universal in Western art. The crucifixion of Jesus, recounted in all the gospels, is one of the episodes of the Passion of Christ. The contemplation of his death by the faithful is and has always been an intense devotional exercise. The suffering of Christ had to be made as realistic as possible by the artist, in order to move the spectators and create piety. Christ with his emaciated and collapsed body hangs on his cross. In an attitude of resignation and abandonment, his head crowned with thorns is leaned on his right shoulder, but the eyes still remain open under the eyebrows contracted by suffering. His wounds shed large drops of blood and clearly show how painful the torment he is enduring is. At the foot of the cross to her right, the Virgin swoons in the arms of Saint John out of compassion for the suffering of her Son. Behind them Saint Marie-Salomé with clenched hands and face twisted in pain looks at the Cross, near her another holy woman seen from behind. To his left, Joseph of Arimathea stands near the cross, his hand placed on the cross, like a gesture of protection to leave dignity to the dying. His face turned from the cross, a resigned look, suggests his complete helplessness in the face of Jesus' torture. Longinus the centurion carrying a spear and shield looks impassively before him, while another standard-bearer soldier contemplates the cross. The man who stands prominently in profile next to the cross of Christ and is highlighted by his rich clothes adorned with precious stones and his pointed hat with gold trim, is probably Levi, tax collector. This intimate scene with very tight framing, tightens the figures around the raised cross, the absence of landscape replaced here by a gold background which comes from the Italian pictorial tradition helps to reinforce the feeling of timelessness of the scene and of its sacred context, gold being assimilated to the divine world. Our work dates back to the last quarter of the 15th century; comparison with similar works (including dimensions) could suggest that it is an altarpiece element, typical of German art. The use of softwood allows us to establish the origin of our panel from southern Germany, Swabia or Bavaria.
1. Crucifixion, German School around 1470, oil on lime (57.5 cm x 31 cm), Dresden Old Masters Painting Gallery, inventory number: 1964 and 343
2. Crucifixion, around 1475 oil on lime 69 x 45.5 cm Stuttgart, National Museum of Württemberg,
3. Crucifixion, attributed to Wolfgang Katzheimer around 1480-1485, Forchheim, Catholic parish church of St. Martin
4. Crucifixion, around 1450, Schwabach, town church of St. John -et-Saint-Martin
5. Fainting of the Virgin and Christ on cross, circa 1473, Munderkingen, Catholic parish church of Saint Denys