Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Three Crosses

Title: The Three Crosses

Artist: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Medium: Drypoint and burin

Size: 39 x 45 cm

Date: 1653

Location: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Mark 15:25-27 It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Mark tells us that Jesus was crucified between two bandits. The Greek word translated as “bandits” is commonly used for insurrectionists who fought against Rome. Their presence in the Gospel reminds us that crucifixion was use specifically against people who fought against Roman Imperial rule. Ordinary criminals were not crucified. Jesus was executed as a rebel between two other rebels.

Considered one of Rembrandt's greatest and most dramatic prints, “The Three Crosses” is a work which has all the power of a painting. It shows the deepest point of Christ's suffering; massive beams of light slice through the darkness that the Gospels relate descended on the entire country. The light focuses on Christ, the two bandits who were crucified beside him and the crowd round about. Rembrandt made several versions of this print. This is an impression of the third state.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (July 15, 1606 – October 4, 1669) was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is generally considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in European art history, his work contributing to a period that historians call the Dutch Golden Age. Rembrandt produced etchings for most of his career, from 1626 to 1660, when he was forced to sell his printing-press and virtually abandoned etching. Only the troubled year of 1649 produced no dated work. In the mature works of the 1650s, Rembrandt was more ready to improvise on the plate and large prints typically survive in several states, up to eleven, often radically changed. He used hatching to create his dark areas, which often take up much of the plate.

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