Christ on the Cross with the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John

Object Details

Title:

Christ on the Cross with the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Saint John

Artist/Maker(s):

Pietro da Cortona (Italian, 1596 - 1669)

Culture:

Italian

Place(s):

Italy (Place created)

Date:

about 1661

Medium:

Pen and brown ink and gray wash over black chalk, heightened with white gouache, on light brown paper, squared in black chalk; the oval only reinforced in red chalk

Dimensions:

40.3 x 26.5 cm (15 7/8 x 10 7/16 in.)

See more

See less

This highly finished study depicts the crucifixion of Christ. Mourning him are the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene. Strong diagonals, animated gestures, fluttering drapery, and gray-brown wash with white heightening vividly express the dramatic moment. The opaqueness of the white bodycolor allowed Pietro da Cortona to conceal some of his earlier attempts at drawing the figures, especially that of Saint John, who is bordered by an area of white that covers earlier positions for the right and left arms, the head, and left leg.

The drawing was a preparatory study for a painting Pietro da Cortona made for the high altar of the church of San Tommaso di Villanova in Castelgandolfo outside Rome. The oval painting was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII and corresponds closely to this finished study. The grid lines indicate that the drawing was squared, a method of preparing a composition for transfer to a larger surface.

Exhibitions
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993) (83)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994) (35)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
Figural Compositional Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century (August 31 to December 8, 1996) (35)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 31 to December 8, 1996
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998) (35)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998
Between Heaven and Earth: Images of Christ and the Virgin (March 19 to June 29, 2003) (35)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 19 to June 29, 2003
Visions of Grandeur: Drawing in the Baroque Age (June 1 to September 12, 2004) (35)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 1 to September 12, 2004