The Crucifixion

Object Details

Title:

The Crucifixion

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

German

Place(s):

Franconia (probably), Germany (Place created)

Date:

fourth quarter of 15th century

Medium:

Tempera colors and gold on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 38.8 x 24.3 cm (15 1/4 x 9 9/16 in.)

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The dead Christ, his body emaciated and his face tinged green, hangs on a monumental cross on Calvary. Angels at his wrists and feet capture his blood in golden chalices. Below, the sorrowful mother of Jesus lowers her head, closes her eyes, and crosses her hands over her bosom, a stoic figure of great dignity. Opposite her, John the Evangelist also stands quietly, his right arm over his heart. Contrasting with these still figures, the drapery of the angels and Christ above flutters and billows expressively, full of movement. Similarly expressive details such as Christ's protruding ribs and his taut, strained arms encourage the viewer's empathic response to the Crucifixion. Jerusalem appears in the background, envisioned as a bustling German city.

The presence of the angels capturing Christ's blood is traditional in German Crucifixion images from around 1500 and relates to the sacrament of Holy Communion. In the ritual of Communion, the body and blood of Christ are understood to be present in the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine. This miniature may have come from a missal and served appropriately as the prefatory image to the Canon of the Mass, read while the priest prepares the bread and wine for the Eucharist.

Related Works
Exhibitions
The Crucifixion in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (January 30 to April 7, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), January 30 to April 7, 1996
Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript illumination (December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998
Ten Centuries of Manuscript Illumination in Germany and Central Europe (July 21 to October 18, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 21 to October 18, 1998
Illuminating Color (May 22 to August 26, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 22 to August 26, 2001
A Treasury of Fifteenth Century Manuscript Illumination (March 26 to June 16, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 26 to June 16, 2002
Images of Violence in the Middle Ages (December 21 2004 to March 13, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 21, 2004 to March 13, 2005
German and Central European Manuscript Illumination (February 24 to May 24, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 24 to May 24, 2009
Related Media
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    Audio: Crucifixion