VITALE DA BOLOGNA
(b. 1289/1309, Bologna, d. 1359/69, Bologna)

Crucifixion

c. 1335
Tempera on panel, 93 x 51 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

This busy and crowded composition is filled with anecdotal detail. In the soldiers' uniforms and the caparison worn by the horse to the left of the cross, we see the artist taking pleasure in the decorative elements of the clothing. The composition also seeks to bring together all the components making up the Crucifixion episode: the Virgin and the three Marys; the Magdalene kneeling at the foot of the cross; the soldiers playing dice in the foreground; the Good Centurion giving Christ the sponge with the vinegar; the Good Thief (on the left, his soul being carried off by an angel); and the Bad Thief (on the right, his soul being carried off by a devil); and finally, the skeleton of Adam.

A large number of figures crowd into the heterogeneous lower part of the composition with no space between them. In the upper part, however, the composition has been emptied in order to emphasize the figure of Christ, creating spatial depth through the positioning of the two thieves in foreshortening and on a lower level.




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