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Review and Analysis of The Crucifixion of Christ by Paolo Veneziano

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Words: 1321 |

Pages: 2|

7 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

Words: 1321|Pages: 2|7 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. houses some of the most beautiful and talented artworks to ever exist. The Gallery carries thousands upon thousands of artworks and about four thousand of these works are paintings. You can experience brilliant paintings from American and European artists from the as early as the Renaissance to as late as Present Day. Throughout this essay, I plan to step into the Gallery figuratively and dissect one of its finest through a variety of sources. The artwork I will be discussing is The Crucifixion by Paolo Veneziano.

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However, first the Artist himself Paolo Veneziano. Veneziano can also be called Paolo Da Venezia. “In Paolo Venezianos late years he had many assistants, including his sons Luca and Giovanni, and it is difficult to determine which pictures are by the master himself, and which were painted by members of his workshop. There are a number of signed and dated works by Paolo Veneziano that can grant him credit. Paolo’s style was based on late Byzantine tradition; he seems to have had some knowledge of contemporary Riminese painting, and his more advanced works indicate that he was profoundly affected by Gothic art. He can be considered the founder of the Venetian school and his influence was deeply felt throughout the fourteenth century.” Many considered Paolo Veneziano to be the most influential artists of the Fourteenth Century, he gained this title through his ownership of the Venetian School. Paolo was the son and brother of two artists however, his name was the only name that stuck with the public. His fame is marked by several commissions for the most important churches of Venice, works in the Venetian mainland territories, churches in Bologna and for towns on the Adriatic coast.

The Renaissance was a time in European culture where rebirth took place. The “rebirth” aspect took place in Europe culturally, artistically, politically, and economically. It began at the end of the Middle Ages. Hence, this period lasted from 14th century to the 17th century, “and promoted the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature and art.”The Crucifixion was created between 1340 to 1345. Depending on which country you are discussing the Renaissance varies in its starting and ending dates. In Italy, for instance the Renaissance began in the 14 Century and lasted until the 17 Century. However, in France the Renaissance began in the 15 century and ended in the early 17 century. The Crucifixion was created between 1340 - 1345, so technically it is not of the Renaissance era. The term “Proto - Renaissance,” is used in Fine Arts to refer an artwork that emerged Pre - Renaissance. It classifies artworks that were created between 1300 to the start of the Renaissance in 1400.

This work was created through tempera on panel. Tempera on panel was the main medium of choice during the Early Renaissance for paintings on wood paneling. “Any pigment which is tempered with a water soluble binder such as egg yolk, glair (egg white), gum arabic or animal glue is referred to as tempera paint.The technique of tempera involves mixing egg yolk with ground color pigments to form an emulsion that could be thinned with water and applied with a brush. The resultant paint was carefully built up in thin layers and dried to a hard matt finish. It is a technique suited to the use of graceful lines, gentle tones and a limited palette of delicate colors. Tempera had a greater luminosity and depth of tone than fresco but less radiance and intensity than oil painting. Its main disadvantage, however, was its quick drying time which made the smooth blending of tones very difficult.” Painting through Tempura was a complex task but nothing Veneziano could not handle.

The Crucifixion of Jesus has been a popular subject in the arts since before the Pagan Roman Empire. The story of Jesus that is happening here is his death by Crucifixion. The Crucifixion involves a person in this case, Jesus, being nailed or tied to a wooden beamed cross. Here, Jesus is being nailed. This particular incident is also taking place on the city wall in Jerusalem. Fluttering above Jesus are angels catching his blood from his wounds. To the left, there is a group on four women. At Center is Mary, mother of Jesus those beside her serve as her support as she mourns her son's death. Below the cross kneels Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was a Jewish women and one of his followers, who witnessed his death. Then to the right of the cross, there stands four men. The first beside the cross is Saint John the Evangelist besides him are a series of soldiers. What will ultimately happen is Jesus will bleed to death. In other cases those left here will eventually die as a result of exhaustion and asphyxiation. It was a form of cruel punishment well known in the Christian faith.

As mentioned earlier, Venezianos works have been recognized by having Byzantine and Gothic Style influences. This work specifically has clearly been influenced by both Byzantine and Gothic styles. These elements can be seen most evidently in Veneziano’s choice of iconography and through his overall style. The National Gallery of Art does a great job pointing out the specific areas of influence, they state: “This panel, for example, shows the Crucifixion taking place before the crenellated walls of Jerusalem. Fluttering angels collect Christ’s blood, and the skull of Adam lies buried beneath the rock of Golgotha. All of these details are found in Byzantine representations. The swooning Virgin and kneeling Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, are derived from Western European depictions. In terms of style, Paolo’s painting straddles the two traditions, combining the abstraction of Byzantine icons with the softer modeling and more dynamic poses found in the art of the West.” With this being considered, it can be understood his style is very much of Byzantine style however, other elements can suggest Gothic / Western influence.

This work to me is shockingly small. When I was confronted by all the different artworks in the National Gallery of Art, this piece in particular did not shock me until I got close to it. For example, just the room over is The Saint Anne Altarpiece. The Saint Anne Altarpiece is 92 15/16 x 29 13/16 inches overwhelmingly big, and it towers me. The Crucifixion is just 14 5/8 x 17 7/8 x 2 1/4 inches where I tower it so their sizes cannot be compared. However, what the sizes can tell us is where these pieces would have been located. The Saint Anne Altarpiece would have been thought to be on a high altar in a Church due to its immense presence. The Crucifixion is too small to stand on the high altar alone and make impact. Hundreds of years ago, most paintings like The Crucifixion were a part of altarpieces. This piece is actually believed to be the top of a moveable Triptych / portable altarpiece. “Originally, this painting had an arched top, the contour of which can still be traced in the different appearance of the gilding, which shows that the corners were much later to transform the panel into a rectangle. Changes like this underscore the fact that early Italian paintings were treated much differently than today's museum-goers.” With this being said, both make you feel a particular way regardless of the initial presence you receive in the room.

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Art is meaningful. Art can represent words that cannot be heard. It is a artist's job to be able to figure out how to translate this barrier. Paolo Veneziano, was a brilliant artist and took on the art world through a storm of creativity. I think it is important to keep his legacy alive and the best way to do so is by educating ourselves on his works. Art is going to continue to grow and change. It is our job to remember some of the firsts of where it all began in order to see all the beauty and pure talent that goes into future artworks.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Unique Features of the Stature in the Crucifixion of Christ. (2022, December 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-unique-features-of-the-stature-in-the-crucifixion-of-christ/
“The Unique Features of the Stature in the Crucifixion of Christ.” GradesFixer, 01 Dec. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-unique-features-of-the-stature-in-the-crucifixion-of-christ/
The Unique Features of the Stature in the Crucifixion of Christ. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-unique-features-of-the-stature-in-the-crucifixion-of-christ/> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
The Unique Features of the Stature in the Crucifixion of Christ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Dec 01 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-unique-features-of-the-stature-in-the-crucifixion-of-christ/
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