Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion

Title: The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion

Artist: Lucas Cranach the Elder

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 51 x 35 cm

Date: 1536

Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Mark 15: 39-41 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

In this painting, Lucas Cranach the Elder chose to portray a scene of religious redemption. The crucified Christ, silhouetted against a darkened and troubled sky, is at the point of death; his last words from the cross are inscribed above him in German. At that moment, a Roman centurion, astride a white charger, recognizes Christ's divinity and pronounces: WARLICH DISER MENSCH IST GOTES SVN GEWEST (Truly, this man was the Son of God [Mark 15:39]). The theme of The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion especially appealed to Protestants because it clearly illustrated the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, the central precept of their creed. The centurion, clothed in contemporary armor, symbolized the "Knight of Christ" who steadfastly defends his new-won belief despite all adversity.

Lucas Cranach the Elder (October 4, 1472 – October 16, 1553) was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. The largest proportion of Cranach's output is of portraits, and it is chiefly thanks to him that we know what the German Reformers and their princely adherents looked like. From 1505 until his death, Cranach was the court painter to three successive electors of Saxony. He became close friends with Luther - who lived in the Saxon town of Wittenberg - and is considered one of the foremost artists of the Reformation.

No comments:

Post a Comment