TINTORETTO
(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)

Crucifixion

1565
Oil on canvas, 536 x 1224 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice

Tintoretto's Crucifixion in the Sala dell'Albergo presents a panorama of Golgotha populated by a crowd of soldiers, executioners, horsemen, and apostles. At the left the cross of the penitent thief is being partly lifted, partly tugged into place by ropes; at the right the impenitent thief is about to be tied to his cross. A soldier on a ladder behind Christ reaches down to take the reed with the sponge soaked in vinegar from another soldier on the ground. The tumult of the crowd, the grief of the apostles, and the yearning of the penitent thief seem to come to a focus in the head of Christ.

Owing to Tintoretto's light-on-dark technique, his figures sometimes have a tendency to look a bit ghostly, but the foreground figures in the Crucifixion, grouped in a massive pyramid at the base of the cross, are defined by vigorous contours and are modelled to create a strong sculptural effect. The little group, huddled as if for protection against the hostile crowds, form the base of the composition.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 48 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: Easter Oratorio, BWV 249