Artist: Eugène Delacroix
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 73.5 x 59.7 cm
Location: The National Gallery, London.
John 19:31-37 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
Although not a practicing Christian, Delacroix painted a number of New Testament subjects. Evidently, he was attracted to the drama of Christ's Passion and was endeavoring to deal with issues of personal faith raised by Christ's human and divine nature. Delacroix painted this subject several times throughout his career. One version showing Christ between the two thieves was exhibited at the Salon of 1835 (Musée Municipal des Beaux-Arts, Vanne). Another version of 1846, closely related to this painting, was shown at the Salon of 1847 and is now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore.
Eugène Delacroix (April 1798 – August 1863) was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school. Delacroix's use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of color profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. Renoir and Manet made copies of his paintings, and Degas purchased the portrait of Baron Schwiter for his private collection. Delacroix was trained by the Neo-classical painter Pierre Guérin, from 1816 to about 1823. In style his work shows the influence of painters he had studied, notably Rubens. He was an admirer of English painting, and visited England in 1825. In 1832 he travelled to Spain, Morocco and Algiers. After the Revolution of 1830 he was favored by Louis-Philippe, and later by Napoleon III, with a long series of official commissions, beginning in 1833 with a series of decorations in the Palais Bourbon.