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The Crucifixion, about 1360



Master of the Fabriano Altarpiece
The Crucifixion, about 1360
Italian, active mid-14th century
tempera on wood panel
15.5 x 5.5 inches (39.37 x 13.97 cm)
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
1961.047.004

This small panel demonstrates the shift in style that occurred in Italian painting during the mid- to late fourteenth century, ushering in the Florentine Renaissance style. Formerly attributed to Andrea da Firenze, it is now recognized to be by the Master of the Fabriano Altarpiece, probably executed late in his career. It was once the right wing of a triptych; the middle panel is now lost, and the left wing, the Adoration of the Magi, is in the Worcester Art Museum.

The painting depicts Christ on the cross against a gold background. On the left, Saint John and Mary Magdalene support the swooning Virgin. On the right, a centurion raises his hand toward the cross. A soldier behind him holds a red banner inscribed “S. (P. Q. R.).” The late Byzantine style of the painting—including the use of gold leaf and the flattened, stylized figures—links the artist with Nardo di Cione, Bernardo Daddi, and Andrea Orcagna, important artists working in central Italy. These artists were also part of a growing stylistic trend toward naturalism, and the emotion suggested by the reactions of the Virgin, soldiers, and centurion reflects this new interest.