Mantegna’s Crucifixion

Hi everyone! This week for the Easter week I wanted to talk to you guys about a beautiful painting done by Andrea Mantegna. The artwork is called the Crucifixion, and it was part of the predella for a large altarpiece for the Basilica of San Zero in Verona. This painting was created around 1457 and 1459. This panel is currently located in Louvre, and three predella panels were replaced by copies in the 1900s.


I picked this artwork because of its unique dynamic and beautiful color scheme. Here we have a scene from the Passion, where Christ is either near death or has died on the Cross.

Christ is not isolated, but he is presented with the two individuals who were also being crucified. Here, Mantegna creates a diversity. Some paintings only include the Crucifixion of Christ, without the two other crucified men, and his followers. However, Mantegna includes a variety of individuals. On the left, he includes Christ’s followers. Though I cannot find information on who is in the painting, it seems that the four Marys are here: Holy Mary who has fainted, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salome. It is unclear who the figure in the red is, but it could be Nicodemus. What’s interesting is that Mantegna makes this scene extremely realistic to the event. In the crowd, you see Christ followers and the Romans, who were waiting for the men to die. We even see, in the foreground, the man who thrust the spear into Christ’s side.

A unique element about this artwork is that there is linear and atmospheric perspective. Christ is the main focus; his Cross takes up the whole center of the artwork. There are also diagonal lines that lead the viewers to Christ. This is further shown by the two crucified man being aligned towards Christ. This is also shown by St. John the Evangelist, who is crying and staring at Christ, and the man on the horse, who is staring at Christ. Additionally, atmospheric perspective is shown through the grand background that Mantegna includes throughout this work.

I’m simple fascinated by this work. There is such a variety of color and features. This is certainly a sad moment, but Mantegna incorporates this lavish background that makes the viewers feel a variety of emotion when looking at this. I think this variety allows people to appreciate the wonderful quality of this moment, the salvation of humanity, and the sorrowful quality of this moment, the death of Christ. Overall, the whole artwork is just beautifully portrayed.

Mantegna, The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, 1458-1460


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