The Crucifixion

Object Details


The Crucifixion






Hildesheim, Germany (Place created)


probably 1170s


Tempera colors, gold leaf, silver leaf, and ink on parchment


Leaf: 28.2 x 18.9 cm (11 1/8 x 7 7/16 in.)

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The artist presented Jesus' Crucifixion within a complex scheme that includes symbolic figures and typological allusions. In the center, while Jesus hangs on the cross, a centurion stabs him with a lance and another man offers him a vinegar-soaked sponge. In compartments to the side, the Virgin and Saint John mourn Jesus' death. In the semicircles near the arms of the cross are Life, shown as a young woman on the left, and Death, appearing as a demon on the right. Their presence reminds Christians that Christ triumphed over death, a message explicitly conveyed through the scroll hanging from Jesus' arms: "O death, I will be your death, O Hell, I will be your bite." Below the cross, a youth tramples the grapes of wrath described in the Book of Isaiah as signifying the blood of vengeance. Medieval Christians understood the grapes of wrath as a prophecy of Christ's victory over death. The association of trampled grapes with Christ's blood is particularly appropriate given this miniature's position in the book, introducing the prayers said by the priest during the Eucharist. In this sacrament, the faithful partake of bread and wine in which Christ's body and blood are understood to be present.

Related Works
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
"In the Beginning was the Word": Medieval Gospel Illumination (August 30 to November 27, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2011