Skip to main content
Christ Nailed to the Cross
Gerard David
/

Christ is stretched on the cross on which he is to be crucified – he looks straight at us to invite our sympathy. At his feet, two soldiers haul on ropes to pull his legs straight as another hammers an iron nail into his feet. A fourth knocks a nail into his right hand.

His pale skin and nakedness emphasise Christ’s vulnerability, and David has painted his body with great care: the thin covering of flesh on his distorted chest, the blue veins and taut sinews in his arms and the contorted fingers of his left hand all convey his terrible pain. His face is red, and he seems to be gritting his teeth.

This was once the central panel of a triptych (a painting in three parts). The outer wings are owned by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp.

Key facts
Artist Gerard David
Artist dates active 1484; died 1523
Full title Christ Nailed to the Cross
Group Triptych: Christ nailed to the Cross
Date made about 1481
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 48.4 x 93.9 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3067
Location in Gallery Room 5
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo

Triptych: Christ nailed to the Cross

/

This painting was once the centre of a triptych (a painting in three parts), and was originally flanked by Pilate and the Chief Priests on the left and The Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist and the Three Marys on the right (both now owned by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp). Together the three panels make sense as a Crucifixion scene, as they include all the characters you would normally find in one.

We don't know when the wings were separated from the central panel. This is one of David’s earliest surviving works, and was probably painted in or after 1491.

;