Art Notes: The Crucifixion by Raphael

Authored by Dr. Lionel Gracey in Issue #35.1 of The Sower

Painted in 1503, when Raphael was only twenty years old, this work could easily be mistaken for one by Raphael’s master, Perugino. The painting, however, is signed and dated at the foot of the Cross, so the provenance is certain. It was made as an altarpiece for a side chapel dedicated to St. Jerome in the Church of San Domanico, Citta di Castello, in Tuscany. The stone frame for the painting is still in place. Below it, the Predella comprised three paintings of episodes in the life of St. Jerome, but these have also been removed, though two survived.

Raphael depicts the moment of Christ’s death on the Cross. Two angels with communion chalices collect the blood gushing from the wounds in the Saviour’s hands and side. Beneath the Cross the Virgin and St John are shown standing, while the two penitents, St. Jerome and St. Mary Magdalene, are kneeling.

St. Jerome carries a stone in his right hand with which to beat his bare breast in mortification. The Cross and the human figures are set on bare earth, but further back there is life-giving water, and vegetation covers the ground, ground which merges gently with the heavenly horizon. Above the Cross, the sun and a darkened moon attest to the cosmic significance of the event being enacted below.

This is a richly symbolic painting, the central theme of which is the Eucharist. Notice first the Cross on which the Saviour hangs. This extends from top to bottom of the painting and signifies that only through the Cross may earth and heaven be reunited.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Fathers: Making Known God’s Faithfulness to Their Children (Is 38:19)
By Fr. Stephen Reilly
The surprise winner of this year’s Best Picture Oscar was veteran South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s social satire Parasite , the first foreign-language film to win the award . Set in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, it chronicles the comedic and underhanded attempts of the Kim family to find work in the home of the wealthy Park family, who live in... Read more
Perspectives on the New Directory for Catechesis – Encouragement for Content: Openness to the Signs of the Times
By Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Free On June 25th of the current year, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization released the new Directory for Catechesis. This is the third explicit apos- tolic and official document on catechesis in recent times. The first one, the General Catechetical Directory of 1971, emphasized the results of the Second Vatican... Read more
Perspectivas sobre el nuevo Directorio para la catequesis – Estímulo para el contenido: apertura a los signos de los tiempos
By Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Free El 25 de octubre del año en curso, El Pontificio Consejo Vaticano para la Promoción de la Nueva Evangelización publicó el nuevo Directorio para la Catequesis . Este es el tercer documento apostólico explícito y oficial sobre la catequesis en tiempos recientes. El primero, el Directorio Catequístico General de 1971, hizo hincapié sobre los... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now