“The Christ crucified” by Antonello da Messina

The crucifixion is an oil painting by the Sicilian artist that dates back to 1475 and that is housed at the National Gallery in London together with “St Jerome in his study” by the same artisy.

The painting represents Christ Crucified with Mary and John the Evangelist.

The characteristics of 15th-century Flemish and Italian painting are combined in a very balanced way. Antonello, who lived in Naples from 1445, probably became acquainted with Flemish painting through works that were shipped from Bruges to Naples.

In addition to this, Venetian painting influenced Antonello when he stayed in Venice in 1475.

The following text is written in tiny characters on a small piece of parchment on a piece of wood broken off from the crucifix in the left foreground: ‘1475 Antonellus Messaneus me pinxit.’

Christ’s body hangs limply on the Cross. With him there are the Virgin Mary and his disciple John the Evangelist who support Christ in his final moments. Antonello composed the picture with a low viewpoint; it is as if we are looking up at a Crucifix placed upon an altar.

The painting is influenced by Flemish versions of this subject by Jan van Eyck and other painters, with Christ’s slender body isolated high above the figures below and in front of a broad landscape background. Antonello da Messina simplified the image. He focused on Christ’s sacrifice and suffering, excluding any distracting detail from the biblical narrative.

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Adriano Caltabiano


II B – Furci Siculo