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

Encountering God in Catechesis
By Catechists' Personal Testimonies
Excerpts from two testimonies. “Let the Children Come to Me” (Mt 19:14) I have not been a catechist for a very long time; however, I was recently privileged to see how the Word of God calls to little children. The week’s lesson was entitled “The Greatest Gift of All” and the subject was the Holy Eucharist. My student is my seven-year-old son, who... Read more
Catechesis in Lockdown
By Sr. Carino Hodder, OP
How do you catechize during a time of pandemic? Several months of enforced separation from their RCIA group or First Holy Communion class is not a contingency for which any catechist will likely have planned. Yet even as ordinary life changes beyond all recognition, Christ’s call to his faithful to grow deeper into relationship with him has... Read more
La catequesis en cuarentena
By Sr. Carino Hodder, OP
¿Cómo se hace catequesis durante una pandemia? Varios meses de separación forzosa de su grupo de RICA o su clase de Primera Comunión no es una contingencia para la cual es probable que algún catequista haya planeado. Sin embargo, aun cuando la vida ordinaria cambia más allá de toda familiaridad, el llamado que hace Cristo a Sus fieles a... 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