Skip to Content
Today Open today 11–5

The Crucifixion

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Francisco de Zurbarán
Spanish, 1598–1664

About this artwork

Beginning in the mid-sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church clarified and reaffirmed its doctrine and practices in an effort to combat the impact of the Protestant Reformation. This effort, known as the Counter-Reformation, recognized the educational and inspirational value of visual images and required artists to work in a style that favored clarity and dramatic fervor.

In 1627 Francisco de Zurbarán, then living and working in the provincial Spanish town of Llerena, painted this Crucifixion for the monastery of San Pablo el Real in prosperous Seville. In the dimly lit sacristy where it was installed, the image of Christ awed the faithful. A later commentator noted that it appeared to be a sculpture rather than a painting. Zurbarán envisioned the crucified Christ suspended outside of time and place. Conforming to Counter-Reformation dictates, the artist depicted the event occurring not in a crowd but in isolation. Emerging from a dark background, the austere figure has been both idealized in its quiet, graceful beauty and elegant rendering and humanized by the individualized face and insistent realism. Strong light picks out anatomical detail, the delicate folds of the white loincloth, and a curled scrap of paper at the base of the cross on which the artist’s name and the date of the painting are inscribed.


On View, Gallery 211


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Francisco de Zurbarán


The Crucifixion


Spain (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Signed and dated on a scrap of paper painted at the foot of the cross


290.3 × 165.5 cm (114 5/16 × 65 3/16 in.)

Credit Line

Robert A. Waller Memorial Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions