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The Crucifixion
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Attributed to Nivardus of Milan
Ottonian, Fleury, France, about 1000 - 1025
Tempera colors, gold, silver, and ink on parchment
9 1/8 x 7 1/16 in.
MS. LUDWIG V 1, FOL. 2V

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This page marks the beginning of the prayers recited by the priest during the preparation of the bread and wine for the Eucharist, the Christian sacrament that early Christian commentators associated with the Jewish tradition of sacrifice. The opening words Te igitur (You, therefore) are placed within the framed miniature.

Inspired by the relationship between the Eucharist and Christ's sacrifice on the cross, the illuminator transformed the opening letter T into the cross of the Crucifixion. While the Virgin Mary and Saint John stand at the foot of the cross and turn towards Jesus with the traditional gestures of mourning, Jesus' powerful body and open eyes suggest his ultimate victory over death. The use of purple-painted parchment, long associated with art works of imperial patronage, enhances the image's majesty, while the exuberant interlace boxes that link the cross ends with the image's frame add tension and vibrancy to the design.