The Crucifixion (after Mantegna) (1861) by Edgar Degas

The Crucifixion (after Mantegna) - Edgar Degas - 1861

Artwork Information

TitleThe Crucifixion (after Mantegna)
ArtistEdgar Degas
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationMusée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, France

About The Crucifixion (after Mantegna)

The artwork “The Crucifixion (after Mantegna)” by Edgar Degas, created in 1861, is an oil painting on canvas located at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in Lyon, France. Although Degas is commonly associated with Impressionism, this particular piece is rendered in a religious painting genre and is an early work of the artist, produced before the full development of the Impressionist movement.

The artwork depicts a traditional religious scene of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, flanked by the two thieves who were crucified alongside him, as narrated in the Christian gospels. Three crosses stand against a dramatic landscape with a starkly lit sky, creating a backdrop that draws the viewer into the gravity of the moment. Jesus is centered on the middle cross, with arms outstretched, head slightly bowed in a pose reflecting agony and death. The figures of the thieves on his sides appear contorted by suffering.

In the foreground, various groups of figures witness the scene. On the left, the somberly-clad women, likely representing the Virgin Mary and other holy women, stand in grief. On the right, the Roman soldiers are shown in dynamic poses, possibly discussing or casting lots for Christ’s garments. The palette is relatively muted, with earthy tones accented by touches of brighter reds and blues, creating contrast and emphasizing particular figures in the painting. The brushwork is loose, suggesting the nascent style that would later evolve into the artist’s mature Impressionist technique.

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