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The Crucifixion

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    East Sussex (possibly Uckfield, East Sussex, painted)

  • Date:

    16th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on panel

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 84, box R

This Crucifixion by a 16th-century British artist is a rare fragment of a decorated fireplace, formerly in Uckfield, Sussex. It forms a set with two further paintings showing an Adoration of the Magi and a Bible outweighing vestments. Against the background of its domestic context, the iconography has been subject of considerable debate.

Physical description

One of a set of three wooden panels. Each is framed between fluted pilasters having moulded caps and bases, supporting a scalloped arch carved with a band of bay-leaves and leaf spandrels. The arches and pilasters, of which some parts are missing, still preserve traces of polychromy. They are applied to the panels beneath.

Place of Origin

East Sussex (possibly Uckfield, East Sussex, painted)


16th century (painted)


Unknown (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on panel


Height: 49.3 cm, Width: 47.2 cm

Object history note

From a now demolished cottage of the East side of Uckfield High Street and still in position over a fireplace in a room, of which one wall preserved its original panelling, in 1860,
Purchased together with the other two panels from Miss F.M. Paine with the assistance of W.H. Godfrey for £25.

Historical context note

The three panels were still in position over the fireplace in a room that in the year 1860 still preserved its original panelling. They have been acquired on account of their unusual iconography and the rarity of surviving examples of decorated fireplaces in Britain. Godfrey, who acted as mediator in the purchase of the panels, commented that “the presence of [the Adoration of the Magi and the Crucifixion] presented above a mantelpiece in protestant England is not a little strange, and the centre panel appears to be something of an excuse and apology for them. Mr Turner thought this painting represented souls being weighed in the balance at the Last Judgment, but it is clear that quite other matters are being tested in the great pair of scales that dominate the picture. A single book (doubtless a Bible) in the left-hand scale is outweighing a pile of books, a cross and vestments in the right-hand one, despite the efforts of a bishop and a monk to add their own weight to the balance. In this painting there is no effort at pictorial beauty, it is a striking but rather crude diagram, intended no doubt by its vigorous protestant symbolism, to remove any suggestion of the old religion which its companion pictures might give.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'The Crucifixion', British School, 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Turner, E., “Uckfield Past and Present”, in: Sussex Archaeological Collections, The Sussex Archaeological Society, vol. 12, 1860, p. 16

Godfrey, W.H., “Three Painted Panels”, in: Sussex Notes and Queries, vol. 2 (Nov. 1928), No. 4, pp. 120f, with illus.


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting


Paintings; Christianity; Interiors


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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