Crucifixion and Last Judgment Diptych by Jan van Eyck
The Crucifixion and Last Judgment Diptych consist of two small painted panels attributed to the Early Netherlandish artist Jan van Eyck, with parts finished by members of his workshop.
This diptych is renowned for its intricate and highly detailed iconography, and the technical skill evident in its completion. It was executed in a small format and was commissioned for private devotion. The original gilt frames contain Biblical passages in Latin.
The left-hand panel depicts the Crucifixion with a view of Jerusalem in the distance. It shows Christ’s followers grieving in the foreground, soldiers, spectators surrounding the cross in the mid-ground, and three crucified bodies in the top third of the painting.
Crucifixion was a painful capital punishment method in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death.
The crucifixion of Jesus is a central narrative in Christianity, and the cross is the primary religious symbol for many Christian churches.
The right-hand panel portrays scenes associated with the Last Judgement. It shows a hellscape at its base, the resurrected awaiting judgment in the center, and at the top third is Christ flanked by saints, apostles, clergy, and the nobility.
The top third of the painting also contains Greek, Latin, and Hebrew inscriptions. The Last Judgment is part of the three largest Abrahamic religions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic.
It represents a worldview of destiny in which our world ends with a resurrection of the dead and the final judgment of each of us.
Nothing is known of the work’s provenance before the 1840s. After that date, it was recorded that the panels were bought at auction from either a Spanish monastery or convent by a Russian diplomat while living in Spain between 1814 and 1821.
The diplomat left his pictures to Tsar Nicholas I in 1845, and they came into the possession of the Hermitage Gallery in Saint Petersburg in 1917.
The panels were included in the Soviet sale of Hermitage paintings, and a New York art dealer purchased them for $185,000 in 1931. The Diptych was then sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck (1390 – 1441) was a Flemish painter who was one of the founders of Early Netherlandish painting.
He was employed as a painter to John III, the Pitiless, ruler of Holland, and later as court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy until he moved to Bruges in 1429, where he lived until his death.
He was highly regarded by the Duke of Burgundy and undertook several diplomatic visits abroad.
About 20 surviving paintings are attributed to him and the Ghent Altarpiece and the illuminated miniatures of the Turin-Milan Hours.
Van Eyck painted secular and religious subject matter, including altarpieces, single panel religious figures, and commissioned portraits.
Van Eyck’s work comes from the International Gothic style, but he soon eclipsed it, in part through a greater emphasis on naturalism and realism.
He achieved a new level of virtuosity through his developments in the use of oil paint. He was highly influential, and his techniques and style were adopted and refined by the Early Netherlandish painters.
Crucifixion and Last Judgment Diptych
- Title: The Crucifixion; The Last Judgment, Diptych
- Artist: Jan van Eyck
- Date: 1430
- Medium: Oil on wood transferred to canvas
- Dimensions: Height: 56.5 cm (22.2 ″); Width: 19.5 cm (7.6 ″) (each)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
Jan van Eyck
- Name: Jan van Eyck
- Born: 1390 – Maaseik, present-day Belgium
- Died: 1441- Bruges
- Nationality: Dutch
- Movement: Northern Renaissance
- Notable works:
The Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych by Jan van Eyck
MET European Paintings Collection
- “Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon
- “Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez
- “Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
- “View of Toledo” by El Greco
- “The Musicians” by Caravaggio
- “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David
- “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
- “The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet
- “Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne
- “The Fortune Teller” by Georges de La Tour
- “The Allegory of Faith” by Johannes Vermeer
- “Garden at Sainte-Adresse” by Claude Monet
- “Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh
- “The Repast of the Lion” by Henri Rousseau
- “The Horse Fair” by Rosa Bonheur
- “Two Men Contemplating the Moon” by Caspar David Friedrich
- “Boy with a Greyhound” by Paolo Veronese
- “A Windy Day on the Pont des Arts” by Jean Béraud
- “Sunday at the Church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Paris” by Jean Béraud
- “The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning” by Camille Pissarro
- “The Sorrow of Telemachus” by Angelica Kauffman
Jan Van Eyck’s “The Last Judgment”
MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
- “Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinsky
- “Jeanne Hébuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne
- “Bathers” by Paul Cézanne
The Last Judgment
MET American Wing Collection
- “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze
- “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent
- “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
- “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham
- “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer
- “The Parthenon” by Frederic Edwin Church
- “The Aegean Sea” by Frederic Edwin Church
- “Alexander Hamilton” by John Trumbull
- “Lady at the Tea Table” by Mary Cassatt
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
– William Shakespeare
Photo Credit: 1) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons