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Eugène Delacroix, 'Christ on the Cross', 1853

Key facts
Full title Christ on the Cross
Artist Eugène Delacroix
Artist dates 1798 - 1863
Date made 1853
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.5 × 59.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1976
Inventory number NG6433
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ on the Cross
Eugène Delacroix

Delacroix depicts a moment from the Crucifixion, recounted in the Gospel of John (19: 25–30), when Christ speaks to his mother, the Virgin Mary, and one of his disciples, John, just before he dies. Christ’s mother, dressed in blue and yellow robes, collapses into the arms of Mary Cleophas and John. At the foot of the cross, Mary Magdalene prays as she looks up at Christ. Unusually, Delacroix also includes Judas Iscariot in the lower right corner.

Delacroix places us among the group at the foot of the Cross, as we too look up at Christ’s body. The use of colour is especially powerful as the greenish-grey pallor of Christ’s body is echoed by the greys and pinkish-browns of the stormy sky. The agitated brushwork combines expressive energy with the immediacy of a sketch.

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