4 Crucifixion Paintings You Probably Haven’t Seen

0

In recent years, these moving depictions of Christ on the cross have only been shown to a select group of museum goers and visitors to auction houses and private collections.

Along with images in veiled churches, here are four painted crucifixion scenes that are moving but have not been widely exhibited in recent years. There was a time when the place where Catholics could see such a representation was at the altar. Now they draw crowds to museums, auction houses and private collections. It takes imagination to see them as they were once intended when no longer accompanied by incense and the whisper of prayer at mass. Here are four that will never be seen in a sacred setting.

1. Back view: Ugolino di Nerio

This first painted representation of the Crucifixion is in the Courtauld Gallery in London. Hidden for three years during the renovation of the building, it is now visible again, alongside some of the greatest works of the Renaissance. The artist’s use of gold and bright red was highly innovative when it was painted in 1320 as part of an altarpiece. The various pieces were dispersed in large collections. This section would have been the most important. Rather than showing the Virgin Mary and Saint Mark with the crucified Christ, there are the figures of the donors who paid for this austere masterpiece.

Ugolino di Neria, Christ crucified with donors

PHOTO: L. DE GUISE COURTESY OF: GALERIE COURTAULD

2. Darkest Hour: Francisco de Zurbaran

Three centuries after Ugolino de Nerio and the Italian Renaissance, it was Spanish artists who created some of the most memorable images of the Crucifixion. Alongside Velazquez, El Greco and Murillo was Francisco de Zurbaran. The dark, intensely mystical feel of Spanish Catholic art was showcased when this painting was briefly exhibited at a Sotheby’s preview in 2019. Placed alone in a large room with no lighting other than on the painting it Even Zurbaran would surely have been impressed. The life-size Christ was so truly alone that viewers of all religious beliefs were overwhelmed with a sense of pathos and hidden power.

Francisco de Zurbaran, Christ on the Cross
Francisco de Zurbaran, Christ on the Cross

PHOTO: L. DE GUISE COURTESY OF: SOTHEBY’S

Francisco de Zurbaran, Christ on the Cross
A close view of Christ on the Cross by Francisco de Zurbaran

PHOTO: L. DE GUISE COURTESY OF: SOTHEBY’S

3. Flowering in oppression: an anonymous triptych from the 20th century

While di Nerio and Zurbaran were creative celebrities in their day, the vast majority of crucifixion scenes were painted by anonymous believers. This triptych from the collection of the Museum of the Cross, yet to be opened, exudes raw vigor and devotion. It’s in a folk tradition typical of Romania but also reminiscent of Ukraine, its troubled neighbor to the north. Both countries suffered considerable religious persecution during the Soviet era.

triptych of christ
Eastern European Triptych Icon

PHOTO: L. DE GUISE COURTESY: CROSS MUSEUM

4. A personal perspective: Issam El-Said

This painting of the Passion of Christ emphasizes the tortured face of Our Lord. The crucifixion was a highly traumatic subject for Issam El-Said (1938-1988). Besides being one of Iraq’s most renowned artists and thinkers, his grandfather had served as President of Iraq. Issam was affected for the rest of his life when a mob crucified his grandfather in the streets of Baghdad. The Muslim artist’s empathy with Christ is almost tangible. The small painting went on display at Bonhams auction house in 2005 and has not been seen since.

ssam El-Said, head of the crucified Christ
Issam El-Said, head of the crucified Christ

PHOTO: L. DE GUISE COURTESY OF: BONHAMS

LAMENTATION;  Gerard David
CRUCIFIXION;  GEROME

Share.

Comments are closed.