Thursday, 24 March 2016

Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross

"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
John 6:38 

Crucifixion was often performed in order to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating particularly heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of crucifying"), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal.

The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem (70), "the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest."

The length of time required to reach death could range from hours to days depending on method, the victim's health, and the environment. Death could result from any combination of factors. A theory attributed to Pierre Barbet holds that, when the whole body weight was supported by the stretched arms, the typical cause of death was asphyxiation. He wrote that the condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the chest muscles and lungs. The condemned would therefore have to draw himself up by his arms, leading to exhaustion, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. When no longer able to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes.(Wikipedia)

Bertram of Minden - Crucifixion

Master Bertram (c.1345–c.1415), also known as Meister Bertram and Master of Minden, was a German International Gothic painter primarily of religious art. This is the left panel of Bertram's Passion altar-piece, the triptych he made for St. Johns in Hamburg. It is one of few works that depict the actual nailing to the cross. The centre panel shows the coronation of Mary. The outer panels show this Crucifixion, Jesus before Pilate, Mary and John under the Cross, and the Entry into Jerusalem.

Michelangelo Buonarroti-
Crucifixion with Mary and John
The masterpiece by Michelangelo.A modest representation of the crucifixion. Next to Jesus are two lamenting angels. Mary and John the Evangelist stand besides the cross. Under the cross is a scull, the traditional reference to the location: Golgotha, Place of the Scull.
In Rome Michelangelo was befriended to a group of intellectuals who sought a more spiritual approach of religion. That influence may be reflected in this painting without background: the background is irrelevant to the story, so why show it.

Around 1540 Michelangelo made a drawing with the Crucifixion for his friend Vittoria Colonna. It is similar to the painting, albeit that Mary and John are not shown. The drawing is in the British Museum in London.

The raising of the cross by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669). Rembrandt painted this circa 1633. He used oil on canvas and the picture is 96,2 x 72,2 cm. It is part of the collection of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

Overseeing the whole scene is a white-turbaned commander who also resembles very much the self-portraits by Rembrandt. Positioned behind the Crucifixion scene, he seems to both look out of the painting and observe the action. However, as another alter ego of Rembrandt, he is not looking out at us but into the mirror of his own mind. His historically inappropriate turban is also significant because artists often wore turbans in the studio to keep paint off their hair.


  1. Of all of these, Michelangelo's drawing for Vittoria Colonna is the one that causes the most intense reaction for me. Thanks for sharing, Han.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. I like the Rembrandt piece very much, it makes a huge impression on me.

      Thank for your comment,


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