Crucifixion Diptych by Rogier van der Weyden
The “Crucifixion Diptych” is a diptych from 1460 and is attributed to Rogier van der Weyden. The two panels are noted for their technical skill, their severe impact and for possessing a directness unusual for the art of the time in the Netherlands. The background to the panels is unknown, and there are many unanswered questions about this “Old Master Painting”.
The extreme starkness of this painting points to its creation as a devotional work, possibly for a monastery. Some art historians have mentioned that the work seems unbalanced and lacking in symmetry, which might indicate a missing panel. The speculation is that tier was a third panel on the right of Christ. The right panel depicts a Crucifixion scene, and the figures are almost two-thirds life-size. Christ’s blood is visible and is amplified by the red cloth draped behind him. The body hangs from the arms, forming a Y-shaped figure. The skull and bone, at the foot of the Cross, are symbolic of the first man, Adam.
Crucifixion scene on the right panel
The left panel shows the Virgin Mary supported by Saint John. Both are dressed in sculptured folded robes and also presented before a draped red cloth. The wall gives the effect of pushing the figures into the foreground. The dark sky is a direct reference the scripture:
“Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” Matthew 27:45
Detail of the Mary and St. John panel.
Rogier van der Weyden surviving works consist mainly of religious triptychs, altarpieces and commissioned single and diptych portraits. He was successful and internationally famous in his lifetime.
Christian art is sacred art which uses themes and imagery from Christianity. Images of Jesus and narrative scenes from his life are the most common subjects, and scenes from the Old and New Testaments play a part in the art of many Christian denominations.
Christianity makes far more extensive use of images than other religions, in which figurative representations are forbidden, such as Islam and Judaism. However, there is also a history of aniconism in Christian history.
Explore Christian Art
Explore Masterpieces of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
- “The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Large Bathers” or “Les Grandes Baigneuses” by Auguste Renoir
- “Crucifixion Diptych” by Rogier van der Weyden
- “At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- “The Large Bathers” by Paul Cézanne
- “The Death of Sardanapalus” by Eugène Delacroix
- Title: Crucifixion Diptych
- Artist: Rogier van der Weyden
- Year: c. 1460
- Medium: Oil on oak panels
- Dimensions 180.3 × 93.8 cm (71.0 × 36.9 in); 180.3 × 92.6 cm (71.0 × 36.5 in)
- Museum: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Rogier van der Weyden
- Name: Rogier van der Weyden or Roger de la Pasture
- Born: 1399 – Tournai, Belgium
- Died: 1464 – Brussels, Belgium
- Nationality: Netherlands
- Famous Works:
“Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?”
– Martin Luther
Photo Credit: 1) By Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (active Tournai and Brussels), 1399/1400 – 1464 (1399 – 1464) – Artist/Maker (Netherlandish (active Tournai and Brussels)) Born in Tournai, Belgium. Dead in Brussels, Belgium. Details of artist on Google Art Project [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons