The Crucifixion

Artist: Pietro Lorenzetti (Italian, active Siena 1320–44)

Date: 1340s

Medium: Tempera and gold leaf on wood

Dimensions: Overall 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (41.9 x 31.8 cm); painted surface 14 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (35.9 x 25.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and Gwynne Andrews Fund, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.436


One of the great innovators of European painting, Pietro Lorenzetti imbued this familiar biblical subject with a new sense of pathos and dramatic intensity. Details such as the piercing of Christ's side with a spear, the breaking of the legs of the thieves, and the Virgin swooning into the arms of her companions ensure an emotional response from the viewer. A century later, Van Eyck added to these pictorial strategies the extraordinary naturalism of a landscape setting replacing the gold ground of Italian painting and introducing a sense that the Crucifixion took place within the context of contemporary life.