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The Crucifixion

Panel
ca. 1515 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This small glass panel in its original oak hanging frame would have served for private devotion. It shows the crucifixion of Christ and the two criminals, at the moment described in the Gospel of St Mark (XV, v.39) when a Roman Centurion, supervising the crucifixion, was moved to faith. The composition made use of at least two woodcut prints from Albrecht Durer's 'Great Passion' (published 1511).

The design was created on the reverse of the glass with paints backed by coloured foils. Though deterioration has occurred we can still perceive the original richness of effect.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Painted Panel on Glass
  • Fragment
Materials and Techniques
Distemper on glass
Brief Description
Painted panel on glass in frame, The Crucifixion, ca. 1515, Antwerp
Physical Description
Reverse-painted and gilded glass panel depicting the Crucifixion, in a joined oak frame with gothic canopy, designed to be hung on the wall.



Dress and buildings are depicted in a contemporary northern European style. Christ, his side pierced, is shown between the two thieves Dismas and Gestas, and in the background a road with soldiers fighting over Christ's clothes, and a cityscape and landscape. On Christ's right are two soldiers, one with a sword, the other with a halberd, standing near a skull on the ground. In the left foreground is a richly dressed and behatted figure with a hammer, mounted on a grey horse. Closer to Christ's cross is an older behatted bearded man (the Centurion) who gestures towards Christ, seated on a brown horse. Below Christ is Mary Magdalene, richly dressed in a golden robe. On Christ's left is a group of three: St John in a red cloak, the Virgin in blue mantle, who has fainted and a younger woman (Mary Cleophas?) in a green dress.



The frame consists of various elements held by pegs and nails, and shows traces of paint and gilding over a white priming layer. (One pinnacle is detached, 2015). A woven cloth backing is visible at one (chipped) corner of the glass, which may be original or added after some retouching which is visible.



Sources

A variety of late 15th and early 16th century sources have been used to create an original composition; these probably include:

-Durer, woodcuts from the Great Passion (c.1497-1500, published 1511) - Christ bearing the cross, The Crucifixion

-Hans Memling's Passion altarpiece c1491

-Lucas van Leyden (various prints)
Dimensions
  • Of glass height: 29.2cm
  • Of glass width: 21cm
  • Overall height: 46.5cm
  • Overall width: 33cm
  • Overall depth: 11cm
Object history
Bought for £10
Historical context
Reverse painted glass decoration was practiced in both northern and southern Europe. Cennino Cennini provides a description of the Italian technique in The Craftsman's Handbook (Thompson translation, 1933, pp.112-114), in which metal leaf is applied first, then scratched away and paints added. In northern Europe (as on this panel), paint was applied to the glass before the metal foil, so that the gilding provides highlights and supports the primary colouring.
Production
Flemish School
Subjects depicted
Summary
This small glass panel in its original oak hanging frame would have served for private devotion. It shows the crucifixion of Christ and the two criminals, at the moment described in the Gospel of St Mark (XV, v.39) when a Roman Centurion, supervising the crucifixion, was moved to faith. The composition made use of at least two woodcut prints from Albrecht Durer's 'Great Passion' (published 1511).



The design was created on the reverse of the glass with paints backed by coloured foils. Though deterioration has occurred we can still perceive the original richness of effect.
Collection
Accession Number
4473-1858

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record createdDecember 19, 2005
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