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.
2 days 6 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their grand opening this weekend. The building, designed by architect David Adjaye, is a truly historic addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C. #APeoplesJourney #MakingHistory
2 days 8 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Time machines, superheroes, wild creatures, and more… JourneyMaker makes every visit to the museum an adventure.
Try this new digital interactive for families in the museum’s Ryan Learning Center, located in the Modern Wing, or print out a tour at home.
3 days 6 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Today marks the autumn equinox and the official end of summer. Celebrate the changing of the seasons with the latest in ARTicle’s Sound and Vision series, matching songs from around the world with our encyclopedic collection.