The first thing that always strikes me about this painting is the size. It's nearly 10 feet tall, making it very close to life-sized. The second thing is just how realistic the figure is. Zurbarán's Jesus is idealized to be sure, but it's also a deeply humanized one. The face is individualized and the strong lighting that comes from somewhere outside the painting calls attention to anatomical details, like the musculature in his torso and the way his toes curl slightly over the too small platform.
When the painting was first shown in the monastery in Seville that commissioned it, people were awed. It was only visible from afar through a grill, and spectators were amazed by how three dimensional it seemed. Later commentators noted that it appeared to be a sculpture rather than a painting. This appearance is heightened by the fact that the scene doesn't appear within a historical context, but on a stark black background, strongly contrasting with Jesus' white figure. Painted at a time when Catholics were aggressively campaigning for new believers, this painting achieved its goal of evoking intense religious feeling.
Image Credit: Francisco de Zurbarán. The Crucifixion, 1627.
5 hours 37 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago #TBT 1924: An old favorite—The Art Institute included German Shepherds as part of our crackerjack security team from the 1920s until the 1940s. Here we see guard dogs Billo and Bella posing with their handler, along with a few paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
8 hours 46 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago TODAY—Admission is free to Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5:00 to 8:00.
Join us for one of three events, including our American Sign Language gallery talk, a dramatic reading by actor Kelvin Roston Jr. from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and a lecture from our American Art Up Close series.
1 day 4 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago TOMORROW at 6:00—Join us for our latest Sign Language Gallery Talk, presented in ASL with voice interpretation.
Free to Illinois residents—http://bit.ly/247Imst