I’ve finally finished a painting I’ve been working on for months. It’s a crucifixion scene using medieval conventions and symbolism, flanked by smaller scenes from the Old Testament that foreshadow Christ’s sacrifice and the Eucharist. Such typology, taken from scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers, was very popular in medieval period art and shows the great design of God’s salvation plan unfolding. I tried to reflect this order, harmony, and interconnectedness in the very composition.  The concept and design for this piece came to me during a challenging time when the subject of my daily meditation in prayer was the crucifixion. In working out the sketches of each scene I prayed through each one and hope that these images can inspire others to prayer.

From top left to bottom right:

  1. Priest/King Melchizedek blesses Abram with bread and wine (Genesis 14:17-24, Hebrews 7:1-28)
  2. Moses lifts up the bronze serpent  (Numbers 21:4-9, John 3:14-15)
  3. Moses strikes the rock (Numbers 20:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:1-5)
  4. Crucifixion: At Golgotha (the place of the skull, traditionally Adam’s skull: 1 Corinthians 15:22) the veil of the temple is torn in two (Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 6:19-20, Hebrews 10:19-22),  the Sun is obscured and the Moon turned to blood (Luke 23:44-45, Acts 2:20-21) the Cross becomes the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:1-2), blood and water pour from Christ’s side (Zechariah 12:10 & 13:1, John 19:34)
  5. The lamb immolated on the altar (Exodus 29:38-41, 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  6. The sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19, John 3:16)
  7. The Passover (Exodus 12:1-51, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

3 comments for “Crucifixion

  1. June 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    I really like the composition and juxtaposition of the old testament types. Great use of color and I love the little celtic knots in the borders. One question that might be interesting to discuss. I think in response to the effeminate, emaciated Jesus you often see portrayed a lot of artist are swinging the other way. It looks a bit like your Jesus has been doing some bodybuilding. 🙂


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    • June 29, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I do feel bothered by overly emaciated or effeminate Christs, but in retrospect I hadn’t meant to make him quite so very built 😉 I think I still need to detox a bit from the superhero-oriented figure drawing style of my young adult days.  I’ve been trying to find some happy medium between the early gothic and modern realistic styles.  On one hand modern people expect to see figures with correct body proportions, etc. but on the other hand some contemporary sacred art (the kind where the artist rejects modernist abstraction) can seem overly realistic to the point where we feel like we’re looking at someone’s neighbor wearing a sheet, which limits that sense of the mystical and transcendent that was present in medieval art.  I think as artists we have a lot of freedom to make conscious decisions about line-quality, depth, drapery (how angular or smooth, how dense are the folds?) and other elements that can enhance the overall expression and composition.

      To get back to the main question, I’m a fan of Cimabue’s crucifix at Arezzo ().  The details of Christ’s body seem to still reference Psalm 22:17 while still having some muscle and solidity.   My other major influence was actually the corpus on the main crucifix at my parish church.  The proportions are normal looking, and Jesus seems to peer down at his own side wound which gives a very graceful overall movement to the figure.


      • July 1, 2017 at 8:36 pm

        Good points all Amanda!

        I would love to see a photo of the crucifix at your parish church!


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