Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai popularly called “Masaccio” is one of the greatest artists of all time and a notable contributor of the early renaissance with famous artworks including that of the florentine. He was refered to as “Masaccio” and he died at 27 years, but his artistic contributions are remembered as one of the leading arts between the 13th and 14th century (Brown 56). Some of his popular works are The Holy Trinity, The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, The Tribute of Money, and not limited to The Brancacci Chapel Frescoes.
With all his artwork, he passed a lot of meaningful messages to his viewers, where his primary focus was on the natural world and the independence of man. That is the place that the man occupied in the natural world. The artist lived during the Renaissance era when the society was full of political tension. Therefore, he applied his tactical skills in painting and drawing such as demarcating his arts symmetrically to give a clear version of the general search for the ideal scientific description of the place of man in the natural world. Besides, the fact that Masaccio’s paintings closely tied with the other artists’ works, the audience of his works find nothing to be more traditional to the age of Christianity (Brown 63). If anything, it is only the artist’s theme of Trinity, which depicts God the Father, intervening for his crucified son, and joined by the Holy Spirit’s white dove.
Andrea Mantegna is another outstanding figure among the Italian painters who played significant roles in art during the Early Renaissance. One of the artist’s achievements touching on the crucifixion of Christ includes Lamentation over the Dead Christ. The painting shows the body of Christ after he was killed and laid on the slab, guarded by Saint John and the Virgin Mary. Contrary to the other works during this heated political time, Lamentation over the Dead Christ is not an idealized work showing Christ’s portrait, rather, the cangiante that the artist applies in the paint gives it a morbid and cold realism. The style that the artist chose to use in this paint also shouts the three-dimensionality of the sculpture.
Another celebrated artist of the early Renaissance is Lucas Cranach the Elder. The artist’s depiction of the body of Christ during The Crucifixion can be seen in twofold. The body on the cross apparently distinguished the Damned and the Blessed. On the right hand of the Christ was the good thief, who surrendered to Jesus by accepting his sin. The good thief meant blessings whereas the bad thief who was on the left hand represented the Damned in the society. The symmetrical images that Cranach used in the painting showed evidence of belief in the religious doctrines of Martin Luther (Brown 73). The image of the father and his son shown in the art demonstrates the reformation of ideals of universality in religion. Despite the fact that Cranach was a contemporary artist of the Italian Renaissance, his styles were relatively dissimilar from his peers’ styles. However, his realism in his arts influenced the changes in the contemporary arts.
Crucifixion was also depicted in the Peter Paul Rubens’ Unione of The Elevation of the Cross (Brown 77). This art has also been referred to as The Raising of the Cross. Rubens enjoyed demonstrating the psychological and the human emotional state through depicting their bodies and through being an enthusiastic humanist. The painting does not only attract the religious attention of the audience but also the political dimension since it was one of the famous arts done during the early periods of the Italian renaissance. The main theme that the artist tried to communicate through this art was the oppression that the innocent people in the society are likely to face and the burden associated with it. Rubens’ style of foreshortening is also clear to the audience viewing this paint. The artist portrays this style in the contortions of the strapping and struggling men. Besides, he brings out the paint’s chiaroscuro through the men’s struggle to carry the cross in time, space, and motion illustration in the paint.
Rembrandt was a talented and skillful artist, whose Crucifixion of 1631 can still be remembered today in the history of art. Vast of the artist’ work, including the one mentioned above, have continually been shown in the museums, owing to their insightful ideas that they present. From the early career of the artist, Crucifixion illustrates that regardless of the faith to which Rembrandt belonged; his belief adhered to the inner traditions of his heart. Ostensibly, according to the artist, the pain and suffering that his spirit suffers on the cross are the inevitable pain of the great master. Besides, there is a close association between art and death that the crucifixion of Christ is the only symbol illustrating the completion of the masterpiece (Harries 27). The image of Christ that Rembrandt uses brings the perception of the audience closer to believe that man was created in the image of God since Christ is the son of God. Therefore, the artist’s interpretation of the art would suggest everything in the cosmos is reflected in the body of humans. The dark background in Crucifixion shows the engagement that the artist has with the audience or the connection that the viewers have with the central theme in the art. Concerning the prevailing political climate, it is clear that way Rembrandt continued the tradition to show the discoveries that the painting ought to change in the history of art.
Merisi Da Caravaggio painted The Crucifixion of Saint Peter in 1601 for the Cerasi Chapel. The art depicts how St. Peter became a martyr when he pleaded with the Romans to invert for him the Cross so that he could not imitate Jesus Christ. Thus, the cross is depicted upside down. The large canvas represents the Romans, with their shielded faces trying to erect the elderly cross. The art depicts Peter as being heavier than what his aged body would suggest, and his lifting of the cross needs the intervention of three men. It is highly likely that Caravaggio had Michelangelo’s frescoes in mind when he was selecting the subjects for his artwork (Seaman and Terbrugghen 57). Even so, the painting’s unione is starker than the confusing miracle of Michelangelo’s fresco exhibited in the Vatican city of Rome. The artist could also be targeting the theme of oppression that those in power put on the innocent and the staunch believers as a sign of superiority of a particular power.
Albrecht Durer was another famous theorist, printmaker, and painter in the German renaissance. The artist established his influence and reputation across Europe at his tender age of twenties (Seaman and Terbrugghen 92). The printmaker kept a lasting relationship with other great artists of his time such as Leonardo da Vinci, where he got more insight in the artwork. Regarding his political milestone, the introduction of the classical motifs by Durer in the northern art has safeguarded the artist’s reputation as one of the most celebrated contributors of the Northern Renaissance. Some of the theoretical treaties, which encompass perspectives and ideal proportions, support the assertion. The painter engraved the scene of his Crucifixion on a small golden plate, which seemingly represented the sword hilt or the Maximillian’s hat. Ostensibly, the golden plate is a symbol of political power that was vested on the Roman Empire when Durer was painting.
Finally, yet important, it would be imperative to look into The Crucifixion of Francisco de Zurbarán, which was done in 1627. The artwork of the Spanish painter still tops the contemporary arts in the scenes of religious imagery owing to the realism that the artist applied to it. The artist’s Chiaroscuro, which majorly contained minimal and muted schemes of colors, portrayed a sense of intensity and mysticism drawn from the shadows of the light sources of the pictures (Harries 31). During this period of heightened political counter-reformation, the artist’s austere scenes of political and religious figures were highly demanded, both by the patrons leading various religious classes and the churches. Evidently, the artist’s depiction of The Crucifixion captivates the sight of the viewers immediately because of the large scale of painting that De Zurbaran opted to use.
Brown, Stephanie. Religious Painting: Christs’s Passion and Crucifixion. London: Phaidon, 1979.
Harries, Richard. The Passion in Art. Aldershot: Ashgate publ, 2004.
Seaman, Natasha T., & Hendrik Terbrugghen. The Religious Paintings of Hendrick Ter Brugghen: Reinventing Christian Painting After the Reformation in Utrecht. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2012.