Lorenzo Monaco's Crucifixion Essay

1531 words - 7 pages

The following paper is a formal analysis of an Italian panel entitled The Crucifixion, by Lorenzo Monaco. The panel was created near the end of the fourteenth century roughly between, 1392—1395 and is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. According to the label identifying this work, this was a processional cross that was used during religious ceremonies in Florence, Italy. One thing to understand is that religious devotion was shown in many different ways throughout these times and the Christians were among those who practiced extreme devotion through the use of material objects that represented religious figures and other icons. There is a strong sense of symbolism in this piece, which is common in artwork produced in the fourteenth century that exemplifies the specialized meaning of the devotional practice associated with Christian iconography.
To understand the connection devotees have to the cross, one must dissect the depicted scene, which is decorated, vibrant and also immediately catches the viewer’s eye to idealize the gruesome suffering that the artist believed Christ went through while on the cross. Religious iconography like Monaco’s Crucifixion, serves as a way of symbolizing nobility thus being identified as a way of venerating holy figures. The artist used tempera as a medium by mixing egg yolk with color pigments on a decorative quatrefoil panel that measures 57.3 x 28 centimeters with the frame and 51 x 23.3 centimeters counting the painted surface alone. The scene on the panel itself is an intense and realistic representation of Christ’s crucifixion and through meticulous detail and stark contrasts in color, helps draws focus to his painful death in an emotional way. At first glance, the viewer’s eye is instantly drawn to the center of this triangular composition, where the flaccid figure of Christ hangs crucified on a cross. His gaunt, emaciated body is bare with the exception of a sheer white cloth that covers his loins. For Christ’s flesh tones, there is a decent balance of pale skin with flashes of a greenish–brown hue that highlights his entire body. In addition, there are four flesh wounds from the stakes that suspend him to the cross in which blood visibly pours out of; one in each wrist; one in the feet; and a gash on the right side of his ribcage where blood spills out profusely. Located directly above the wooden cross are two angelic figures, which flank a red inscription atop the cross that is identified as ICXC (Jesus Christ). Each angel is depicted from the waist up emerging from what appears to be clouds gesturing towards a third figure, which is presumably God.
Monaco’s rendering of the scene indicates the divine relationship between God and Christ as a result detailing the relationship that worshippers have with God through Christ. In this highly classicized panel, God is depicted with a sullen almost doleful look on his face as he hovers over the crucifixion. In the final area of the lower...

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