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Introduction

Christianity is among the leading religions across the globe. Mainly, the Christian religion teaches about morality and growing to be upright people with the capacity to ensure the world is better each day.  The bible, which is the core book in the Christian faith comprises of many stories meant to teach about specific values among Christians[1].  Some stories in the bible are core while others are auxiliary of the book. The story of Jesus remains among the core pillars in which the bible is founded. In the bible, Jesus remains the source of redemption of man to God after sinning and living for many years under the law.  Furthermore, Jesus came to replace the law with grace, whereby people would no longer live under condemnation but rather through grace, sufficient for all[2].  However, the redemption of man could not be a successful void of the crucifixion of Jesus, because his blood was to act as the symbol for cleansing of sins of men[3]. The crucifixion story is complex, especially to the ignorant masses and therefore the need to present it in visual form.   For this reason, many painters and other artists have taken the responsibility of providing artistic presentations of the crucifixion story to ensure that many people can understand. As Gregory the Great pronounced the main function of images in the Latin West as ‘painted likenesses [are] made for the instruction of the ignorant, so that they might understand the stories and so learn what occurred[4]. This paper discusses the different Arts on the crucifixion of Jesus, and their potential to instruct viewers both in the content of Christian stories and in the significant of this story.

 

Crucifix (Cimabue, Santa Croce)

 
Figure 1: Crucifix (Cimabue, Santa Croce),176.4 in × 153.5 in
Derived from [5]
 
The Crucifix (c. 1265) refers to a wooden crucifix, which was painted in distemper, attributed to mosaicist Cimabue, a Florentine painter[6]. This is one of the two largest crucifixes attributed to the painter. The crucifix is constructed from a complex arrangement of five major as well as eight auxiliary timber boards. The crucifix is renowned for its humanistic iconography as well as technical innovations. Both the monumentality in addition to the gilding connects the crucifix to the Byzantine tradition. However, Christ’s still pose is quite reflective of this style. Nevertheless, the crucifix generally incorporates newer as well as more naturalistic aspects.   This crucifix presents a realistic and physically impressive depiction of the passion at Calvary.  In this work, Christ is presented barely naked, his face defeated and lifeless while his eyes are closed. In addition, his body slumps body is contorted by prolonged pain and agony[7]. The crucifix has remained in the Basilica di Santa Croce, in Florence from 19th century, and at the Museo dell’Opera Santa Croce, from the time it was restored after the Arno flooding of 1966 [8].  However, it is in poor condition regardless of the significant conservation efforts.

Comparison to earlier works

Compared to the earlier crucifix works, this work presents the body of Christ in a more physically corporeal way. In addition, Christ’s anatomy is presented been more closely rendered. Furthermore, his feet are extending beyond the pictorial space, which is explained by the flat, coloured borders of the cross. The Christ’s body as well as his semi-circular aura are located at angles arising outwards and above the cross’ level. What is more, his body arches, and this forces his chest to ascend against the cross. The works provides blood oozing from the numerous would in the hands. His head falls and leans to one side because of fatigue, and the bodily reality of imminent death. Moreover, in this work Jesus is naked excluding sheer as well as transparent loincloth only covering his thighs as well as buttocks. Cimabue’s choice of a white, veil-cloth is modestly dramatically compared to the red garment in Arezzo work. Cimabue’s choice of Christ’s nakedness is not in vain. It helps to demonstrate Jesus’s suffering and vulnerability[9]. The nakedness function seemed to be influenced by a meditation of 13th century on Christ that emphasized on human-interest and grief in the suffering of the Passion. The meditation presents that people should turn away their eyes from the divinity of Jesus and focus on him purely as a human being.
On the other hand, his eyes are open and the skin is quite unblemished. In addition, the paint on the cross is deep blue, conceivably suggesting timeless or eternal sky. This provocation is named Christus triumphans, and it helps to distance the divine from the real human aspect of Christ [10] . It portrays Jesus as a saviour who shared the burden and pain of humanity. This work too surpasses Cimabue’s c. 1268 Arezzo work in numerous ways. To begin with, it is very human and little reliant on romanticized facial types. In addition, the Christ’s anatomy is highly convincing. Furthermore, Christ’s nose is narrower and longer while the nose is less idealized. According to[11], these features give Christ a coarser and a personal expression.
Cimabue’s work is quite convincing and informing than mere use of theoretical explanations. Using various features, Cimabue helps people to understand the passion at Calvary in a more simple way. For example, Cimabue’s choice of Christ’s nakedness is not in vain. It helps to demonstrate Jesus’s suffering and vulnerability. The feature shows that Christ dropped off his divine powers and class to become more of human in order to endure human suffering and pain in a quest to safe humankind from any form of condemnation. In addition, the blood oozing from his sides shows that Jesus suffered to a point of shading blood in order to safe mankind. In addition, the blood shows the value of human beings to God. He chose the priceless blood of his son to show the unending and unfading love for humankind[12]. However, upon the head seems shiny and golden. The shiny and gold-like look symbolizes that despite all the suffering, Christ carried his glory and divinity to the cross. In addition, it shows that not even the suffering and rebuke could lower his godly standards.

The Crucifixion 1565, by Tintoretto

 
Figure 2: The Crucifixion of Christ and was painted by Jacopo Tintoretto
Derived from [13]
 
The painting is named the Crucifixion of Christ, and was made by Jacopo Tintoretto in 1565 in the Renaissance era[14]. This is a religious painting portraying the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the centre of the large painting, there is a human being with a halo around his head, crucified and displayed on the cross. Below the crucified Jesus is a group of twelve men, who appear to be devastated. The assumption is that these are the twelve disciples.  At the backdrop  of the painting , there are many people who seem to have received the same fate as Jesus. In addition, there is a group of guards surrounding those going to be crucified.
The figure looks significantly powerful and willful, energetically pugnacious, in its attentiveness, almost Herculean-like in its strength. In addition, its arms seem twisted backwards, as if showing off those mighty as well as fat-rope-like muscles. Instead of rolling back powerlessly, sympathizing with its maker for deliverance, his head leans down and appears swiveling to the right, as if observing, or orchestrating, the various events going on beneath its stare. From a close look, it appears that the head is much engaged in the scene. It seems to know the events taking place. In addition, the head is more engaged as if knowing the reason why they are happening [15]. Furthermore, the figure is more confident, a reflection that it knows its destiny and it is highly determining to driving things along to their unavoidable tragic conclusion. All things are overlooked by the head from a marvelous height- The head of Christ is practically rasping alongside the enormous top edge of the canvas, which is skinning the frieze straight underneath the ceiling.
The entire scene is excitedly lively, with many human beings. We can theoretically hear their noise, its continual agitation and movement.  One of the two things seems to be on the ground, while waiting to be crucified. In this picture, one thief is seated, waiting for his time.  Furthermore, the second thief is being raised on the cross. In this case, the thief is seems been pulled up from the front and pressed up from behind. From the look of things, the soldiers pushing him seem to be rough. The two thieves are not given time to play more role in Tintoretto’s scene[16]. The audience are required to futilely speculate; since the artist does not want the Jesus to be viewed upright amongst, the crucified thieves like this were commonplace approach of execution. In this case, he wants the crucifixion to be unique. From the picture, it is clear that nothing is at ease-all people and animals are disturbed. For example, some people are kneeling, others are standing, others are staring, and others are asleep, while others are jerking up. Furthermore, the animals are not at ease and seem to be disturbed by the event of Christ’s crucifixion. The horses are butting, swivelling, and turning. The appearance of the soldiers watching the event on the side of Golgotha gives the place an inhospitable and spiky appearance. In doing so, the painter portrays the mythical warriors springing from the seed of Dragon’s teeth that were sown by Cadmus, only later to turn and slaughter each other at once.  In this painting, the Tintoretto is intentionally summoning up anti-Reformation ideas of disunity of Christ’s enemies, because the garment of Christ, which symbolizes the unity of church, is placed antithetically ahead of the Roman army sign.
In the midst of the anguish and suffering, Tintoretto depicts a great opportunity for happiness through repentance. The primary theme conveyed in the painting is turning away from sins and starting a new chapter of doing only the good things. Jesus is the main feature in the painting and that is why he is placed in the centre of the painting. In addition, he has an aura of light around his head[17]. This shows his divinity. It helps most Christians to understand that despite the suffering and the pain that Jesus encountered on the cross, he was still God and he maintained his divinity even at the cross. While being lifted for crucifixion, the thief on the right hand seems to be repentant. While being lifted to his cross, the thief is looking up to Jesus.  On the other hand, the thief on the left seems to look away from Jesus while being nailed on the cross. This is symbolism, and helps to show that even though Christ died for all people,  people have the sole responsibility of deciding on whether to look up to him or to look away from him.  In addition, the placement of the repent thief on the right side of God is symbolism too. The right hand symbolises sureness. The choice of having the repentant thief on the right shows that Jesus was sure of his mission. In addition, this shows that only the people who are ready and sure of Christ’s mission of forgiveness would stand firm on his right hand and get redemption.  In the picture, Jesus is sure of the unfolding of the event and determined to ensure success for man to be reunited with the father.
 
 

Cross-of Mathilde

Figure 4: Cross-of Mathilde
Derived from [18]
This is an Ottonian processional cross, which has been in Essen, Germany from the time of its construction in the 11th century. The cross was made between 1000 and 1058. During 1000 Mathilde was abbess, while during 1058, Abbess Theophanu died. The two were Ottonian dynasty’s princesses. The size of the cross is 18 inches tall, and 12.0 inches. The cross comprises of an oak core that is covered in a gold sheet[19]. Below the cross lies a modern glass ball, serving as a handle.
In this crucifixion, Jesus is standing at the suppedaneum, having his legs together. In this case, his feet are not nailed. On the other hand, the loincloth is tied at the middle and drops evenly in audacious folds. In addition, Christ’s arms are not equal in length. From the Crucifix, his head is bent on one side, surrounded by a halo[20]. The duo round enamel medallions with the personification sun and mood symbolize the mourning and grief of the entire creation following the death of Christ. The personifications are placed on the cross’ horizontal beam. In addition, the duo personification seems to be looking up to Jesus. The sun is gazing at Jesus from the left while the moon is looking at Jesus from the right. The enamel plaque’s background that is depicting the sun is green. Normally, green symbolizes health. Having green as the background colour shows that Jesus’ death on the cross would lead to life[21]. On the other hand, the sun’s bust contains a mournful expression and has its hands raised to the face. The sun is wearing a crown that has four jagged rays in his golden air and holds a cloth before his face. The mourning expression of sun symbolizes that the mourning that people have gone through will not last for long[22]. Despite the gloomy expression of the sun, there is a great hope with the crucifixion of Jesus.
The entire cross is covered with gold coating. This was not for granted. The gold shining is meant to show the glory and divinity of God. The bible teaches that God is all-powerful and glorious and the gold is meant to symbolize this. In addition, it helps to show the many doubters that Jesus was wealth (symbolized by the Gold), but he left all this wealth and humbled himself order to ensure salvation of humankind[23].
There are certain consistencies in the story of crucifixion of Jesus.  To begin with, in all the crucifixes Christ appears shining in the midst of the transgression that he is going through. In the visuals, he is presented while shining and glowing. Specifically, this shows that despite the many suffering and pain, Jesus remained strong and carried his glory with him even when at the centre of suffering. This is meant to encourage many Christians. It shows that regardless of their lack of blemish, they should expect to be tried. In the midst of the trials, they should not lose hope but rather they should remain strong and have stronger faith in God, who redeems all people and forgives every kind of sin.
In other visuals, Jesus is fully naked in some paintings while in others he is not.  However, the main function of the nakedness is showing that Jesus surrendered everything for salvation of humankind. He sacrificed his life, the peace, and love of his mother, brothers and the disciples. Furthermore, Jesus had to sacrifice and uncouth himself of his love and honour for humankind and the great godly power and love that he carried with him. The sacrifice of all these elements ensured that Jesus could be led to the cross.

Conclusion

Christianity is founded on the idea of ensuring high standards of morality is maintained in the society. In addition, it ensures that human beings are able to live well with their fellow human beings with the least collision possible. However, many stories are central to the Christianity religion.  The crucifixion of Jesus stands at the centre of the Christian faith. With the death of Jesus, all people were redeemed.   In addition, the shedding of the blood of Jesus was a symbol of cleansing of the human sins. The cleansing would ensure that man was in good standing with the Creator and would no longer be condemned. What is more, the death of Jesus introduced grace to the humankind and erased the need to follow the tough draconian laws introduced by Moses. Regardless of one’s sins, a prayer would be enough to ensure that they are cleaned of all their sins and transgressions. Additionally, the death of Jesus would ensure that people would no longer be judged by their actions but through the grace of God that is sufficient to all human beings. However, considering that theoretically the story of Jesus is difficult to understand. However, presenting it in visual format makes it easy to grasp the concepts. The Cross-of Mathilde, the Crucifix (c. 1265) and the Crucifixion 1565, by Tintoretto provides a simplified story of crucifixion of Jesus. Through the visuals, it is easy for the Christians to understand than reading everything from the bible.
 
 

References

“The Crucifixion of Christ, detail of the right-hand side, 1565 (oil on canvas).” (January 1, 2014): Credo Reference Collections,
Campbell, Gordon. 2006. The Grove encyclopedia of decorative arts. Vol. 1, Vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cannon, Joanna. 2002. “The era of the great painted crucifix: Giotto, Cimabue, Giunta Pisano, and their anonymous contemporaries.” Renaissance Studies 16, no. 4: 571.
Fulton, Rachel. 2002. From judgment to passion: devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200. New York: Columbia University Press.
Garrison, Eliza. 2012. Ottonian imperial art and portraiture: the artistic patronage of Otto III and Henry II. Farnham, Surrey, UK, England: Ashgate.
Horton, Michael. The Christian faith: A systematic theology for pilgrims on the way. Harper Collins, 2011.

  1. Nees, Early Medieval Art (Oxford, 2002) – tracks the development of the distinctive artist tradition that emerged in Europe from c. 300 CE-c. 1000 CE, revealing different forms of artistic expression (mostly in Western Europe).

Migliore, Daniel L. Faith seeking understanding: An introduction to Christian theology. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2014.
Rakić, Ivana Čapeta. 2014. “A View from the South East. Works of the Santa Croce Workshop.” Il Capitale Culturale Studies On The Value Of Cultural Heritage 10, 215.
Smith, Christian. Disruptive religion: The force of faith in social movement activism. Routledge, 2014.
Thompson, Nancy M. “The Franciscans and the True Cross: The Decoration of the Cappella Maggiore of Santa Croce in Florence.” Gesta (2004): 61-79.
Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti. 1564. “Crucifixion (Crocifissione), by Jacopo Robusti known as Tintoretto, 1564 – 1565, 16th Century, oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm.” Bridgeman Education
 
[1] Horton, Michael. The Christian faith: A systematic theology for pilgrims on the way. Harper Collins, 2011.
[2] Migliore, Daniel L. Faith seeking understanding: An introduction to Christian theology. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2014.
[3] Smith, Christian. Disruptive religion: The force of faith in social movement activism. Routledge, 2014.
[4] L. Nees, Early Medieval Art (Oxford, 2002) – tracks the development of the distinctive artist tradition that emerged in Europe from c. 300 CE-c. 1000 CE, revealing different forms of artistic expression (mostly in Western Europe).
[5] Rakić, Ivana Čapeta. 2014. “A View from the South East. Works of the Santa Croce Workshop.” Il Capitale Culturale Studies On The Value Of Cultural Heritage 10, 215.
[6] Thompson, Nancy M. “The Franciscans and the True Cross: The Decoration of the Cappella Maggiore of Santa Croce in Florence.” Gesta (2004): 61-79.
[7] Thompson, Nancy M. “The Franciscans and the True Cross: The Decoration of the Cappella Maggiore of Santa Croce in Florence.” Gesta (2004): 61-79.
[8] Thompson, Nancy M. “The Franciscans and the True Cross: The Decoration of the Cappella Maggiore of Santa Croce in Florence.” Gesta (2004): 61-79.
[9] Rakić, Ivana Čapeta. 2014. “A View from the South East. Works of the Santa Croce Workshop.” Il Capitale Culturale Studies On The Value Of Cultural Heritage 10, 215.
[10] Cannon, Joanna. 2002. “The era of the great painted crucifix: Giotto, Cimabue, Giunta Pisano, and their anonymous contemporaries.” Renaissance Studies 16, no. 4: 571.
[11] Cannon, Joanna. 2002. “The era of the great painted crucifix: Giotto, Cimabue, Giunta Pisano, and their anonymous contemporaries.” Renaissance Studies 16, no. 4: 571.
[12] Cannon, Joanna. 2002. “The era of the great painted crucifix: Giotto, Cimabue, Giunta Pisano, and their anonymous contemporaries.” Renaissance Studies 16, no. 4: 571.
[13] Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti. 1564. “Crucifixion (Crocifissione), by Jacopo Robusti known as Tintoretto, 1564 – 1565, 16th Century, oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm.” Bridgeman Education
[14] Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti. 1564. “Crucifixion (Crocifissione), by Jacopo Robusti known as Tintoretto, 1564 – 1565, 16th Century, oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm.” Bridgeman Education
[15] Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti. 1564. “Crucifixion (Crocifissione), by Jacopo Robusti known as Tintoretto, 1564 – 1565, 16th Century, oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm.” Bridgeman Education
[16] “The Crucifixion of Christ, detail of the right-hand side, 1565 (oil on canvas).” (January 1, 2014): Credo Reference Collections,
[17] “The Crucifixion of Christ, detail of the right-hand side, 1565 (oil on canvas).” (January 1, 2014): Credo Reference Collections,
[18] Fulton, Rachel. 2002. From judgment to passion: devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200. New York: Columbia University Press.
[19] Fulton, Rachel. 2002. From judgment to passion: devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200. New York: Columbia University Press.
[20] Garrison, Eliza. 2012. Ottonian imperial art and portraiture: the artistic patronage of Otto III and Henry II. Farnham, Surrey, UK, England: Ashgate.
[21] Fulton, Rachel. 2002. From judgment to passion: devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200. New York: Columbia University Press.
[22] Garrison, Eliza. 2012. Ottonian imperial art and portraiture: the artistic patronage of Otto III and Henry II. Farnham, Surrey, UK, England: Ashgate.
[23] Campbell, Gordon. 2006. The Grove encyclopedia of decorative arts. Vol. 1, Vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press.