Leonardo Corona, The Crucifixion

16th century
Church of San Giovanni Eleemosynario, Venice, Italy

In bringing the Baroque aesthetic to his subject, Corona elided some elements in the traditional iconography, altered others, and brought in some new ones. For example, the INRI plaque is not visible at the upper edge: Baroque paintings typically present themselves as slices of space/time and invite the viewer to "see" beyond the boundaries of the frame. Thus the bottom edge gives us only the top of a ladder: our imagination will provide the rest of the ladder, and our memory will take us forward in time to the ladder in the Deposition, which is usually pictured in a separate image.

Part of the tradition is to include the centurion who points to Jesus and says, "Indeed this was the Son of God." But Corona's very different centurion faces away from Jesus as he shouts directions to the soldiers who are erecting the cross on the right. In traditional iconography the Virgin Mary faints away to the left while John stands on the other side of the cross. Here she seems to fall toward the viewer.

These variants on the traditional images give the canvas the high drama of Baroque history painting, with dozens of figures, vigorous action, and vivid, highly selective lighting. But there is less theology, and less emotional involvement is asked of the viewer than in those older images.

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More of the Crucifixion

Photographed at the church by Claire Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.