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Antonello da Messina, Christ Crucified

Key facts
Full title Christ Crucified
Artist Antonello da Messina
Artist dates active 1456; died 1479
Date made 1475
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 41.9 × 25.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1884
Inventory number NG1166
Location Room 26
Collection Main Collection
Christ Crucified
Antonello da Messina

Christ’s body hangs limply on the Cross; the torment of his crucifixion is almost over. He is supported in his final moments by the Virgin Mary and his disciple John the Evangelist. Antonello has composed the picture with a low viewpoint; it is as if we are looking up at a Crucifix placed upon an altar. This association is a reminder that Christ’s death would come to be celebrated by the Christian Church as an act of salvation.

Our picture owes some debt to Netherlandish versions of this subject by Jan van Eyck and other painters, which were usually also painted on a small scale, with Christ’s slender body isolated high above the figures below and in front of a broad landscape background. Antonello has simplified the image – excluding any detail from the biblical narrative – to focus upon Christ’s sacrifice and suffering.

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