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Quinten Massys, The Crucifixion

Key facts
Full title The Crucifixion
Artist Quinten Massys
Artist dates 1465/6 - 1530
Date made about 1515
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 91.5 × 58.8 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG715
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Crucifixion
Quinten Massys

This is the aftermath of the Crucifixion. The soldiers are riding away, and only Christ’s followers are left. Christ hangs from the Cross, dead or near death. The Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist stand on the left, while Mary Magdalene clings to the foot of the Cross. On the left Joseph of Arimathea brings a shroud. With him is Nicodemus: the opening of his tomb can be seen behind the Cross - this is where Christ will be buried. Another man carries a ladder, to help get Christ’s body down.

This picture is one of a group of related Crucifixion scenes associated with Quinten Massys, his workshop and his followers. This picture and a version in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa appear to be largely by Massys. The hatching and feathering to soften the tonal transitions may be characteristic of Massys himself. The effect was achieved in some places, for example in Mary Magdalene’s sleeve, by dragging wet paint with dry brushes.

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