Christos on the Cross, Francisco de Surbaran – overview of the painting

Christos on the Cross, Francisco de Surbaran – overview of the painting
Christos on the Cross, Francisco de Surbaran - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Francisco de Surbaran
  • Museum: Art Institute, Chicago
  • Year: 1627

Overview of the painting :

Christ on the cross is Francisco de Surbaran. 1627. Oil on canvas. 290 x 168 cm

   The painting “Christ on the Cross” is the most famous work of “Spanish Caravaggio”, and this is what was called Francisco de Surbarana during their lifetime. Laconic and simple in composition, the picture strikes with its monumentality and “sculpturality.”. This work is recognized as the best anatomical accuracy of human image among the entire heritage of Spanish painting.

   De Surbaran wrote all his paintings from nature, while avoiding overloading elements. Moreover, the author deliberately deprived his canvases of any genre – he simply knew how to see the beautiful in the ordinary and portray the simply and concisely great.

   The presented work clearly demonstrates all the style features of the painter. Jesus at Surbaran is noticeably different from the interpretation of El Greco, who lived and worked in Spain for several decades earlier than his compatriot – there is no sophistication, drama, talking emotions. Christ on the cross is calm and noble. Behind external restraint lies both religiosity, piety, and incomprehensible mighty will.

   Looking at this work, which is almost 400 years old, one can only admire how filigree and carefully the painter depicted a naked body – every muscle of the tormented Christ is prescribed with unbeatable accuracy and amazing beauty.

   The master completely abandoned the background so that the viewer focused only on the hero and the specific moment. De Surbaran depicted exactly the moment when Christ is still alive, but the forces have already left his body. The head fell on the chest and the viewer sees exactly the moment when Christ is ready to accept his death. However, in this barely elusive moment there is nothing dramatic, only humility and unlimited, spiritual nobility. But from this the picture gets this severe monumentality. The canvas is the bearer of not only the plot, but also the deep philosophical content.