CRUZ, Diego de la
(documented 1482-1500 in Burgos)

Christ of Mercy

c. 1485
Oil on panel, 85 x 71 cm
Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao

In this work created for the church of Torre de los Molinos, a town in the province of Palencia, Christ is portrayed as the Man of Sorrows, a mystic representation that was usually placed in the centre of the predella in Gothic altarpieces. His image stands out against a golden and polychrome ground, in imitation of the rich fabrics of the period, above which we read the Latin inscription "I am the way, the truth, and the life." The mantle framing the figure presents angular pleats in Flemish style, in a vitreous red produced by the use of a lacquered pigment.

But the most remarkable feature is the quasi-scientific study of the human figure, in which the bone structure and muscles are faithfully represented by means of blended colours and a careful shaping, taking great advantage of the technical qualities of oil painting. The painter succeeded in capturing the effect by means of which shaded areas occasionally receive reflected light from their surroundings, as we can see in the lower edge of Christ's left hand and arm.