Rogier van der Weyden 1399/1400 – 1464

The Crucifixion (Escorial)

oil on panel (325 × 192 cm) — c. 1455 Museum Monastery of El Escorial, San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Rogier van der Weyden biography

This work is linked to John 19:25

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This monumental panel by Rogier van der Weyden is in a bad shape due to several circumstances.

First of all it is a badly constructed panel. The joins of the thirteen planks were not made with much care. That has resulted in numerous cracks in the paint along the joins. This is most clearly visible just above Jesus' knees.

Secondly the panel was damaged during a fire in the Escorial in 1671. Escpecially the dark parts suffered from the heat.

Add a badly performed restoration, probably done around 1700. Luckily most of the additions could be removed in a later restoration.

Van der Weyden made this panel on his own initiative. He gave it to a Carthusian charterhouse in Scheut, near Brussels. In 1555 the monks sold it to Philip II of Spain, who put it in the Escorial.

Among Van der Weyden's remaining work this is the only panel with life size figures. It has been recorded that 16th century viewers were impressed by the three-dimensional quality. In the Scheut convent that may have been enforced even more by a curtain that partly hid the panel.

John and Mary are wearing grayish-white garments. The monochrome colours bring rest into the emotional scene. It also happens to be the dress colour of carthusian monks.

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