Paolo Veneziano, The Crucifixion

Circa 1340
National Gallery, Washington

This is an early example of the new, more emotional treatment given to Crucifixion images in the later Middle Ages. St. Mary Magdalene grasps the bleeding feet of Jesus as Mary faints into the arms of her companions (although she does not fall to the ground as in some other examples from this period).

Older works had linked the Crucifixion to the liturgy by putting Jesus in a colobium and keeping his arms at right angles to his body. The new images suppress those details in the interest of pathos, but a number of them "rephrase" the liturgical connection by having angels collect Jesus' blood in bowls or chalices.

Veneziano retains the old tradition of planting the cross on a little mound with a skull to represent Mount Calvary. In the group on the right are St. John the Evangelist and the centurion who said, "Indeed this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).

More of the Crucifixion

Source: Wikimedia Commons