The Raising of the Cross is a significant piece of religious art painted by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1633. It was commissioned as part of a five-painting series of the Passion of Christ by Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. The painting can be found in the Alte Pinakothek situated in Munich, Germany, and is admired for its close resemblance to Rubens’ version from c. 1609-10.
Unlike many other Rembrandt works, The Raising Of The Cross consists of broad brushstrokes that make use of impasto techniques to mimic texture and depth. This painting has been considered one of Rembrandt’s Baroque masterpieces due to its grandiosity and bold storytelling. Moreover, this artwork is significant because it features Rembrandt’s self-depiction within the painting itself.
Rembrandt’s iconography sees Christ positioned centrally along with two thieves on either side and various onlookers surrounding the cross—alluding to the concept that Jesus’ crucifixion was a public event witnessed by many people. What sets this piece apart is how it depicts vivid emotions—sorrowful Mary Magdalene looking up at Jesus and John holding Mary’s left arm while gazing up with a mournful expression add an emotional dimension not typically present in previous religious artwork.