- Museum number
The Crucifixion, with the two thieves; the sun and the moon in the top corners of the cross, inscribed 'INRI'; soldiers on horseback below armed with swords and spears; a fainting Virgin supported by St Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross; the Holy Women, St John the Evangelist and another saint kneeling beside; in the right background a banner with: '[S]PQR', next to one with the emblem of a scorpion. c.1485
- Production date
- 1485 (circa)
Height: 224 millimetres
Width: 165 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The print belongs to a series of fifteen engravings of the 'Life of the Virgin and Christ' executed in a style called by Hind the 'Broad Manner' and recently attributed to Francesco Rosselli; for a discussion of this group see the entry for Hind, B.I.1.II (1870-6-25-1048).
This is the first state of the print, probably executed in the middle to late 1480s; Hind distinguished three variants of the first state (two of which are in the BM): the first variant (a) with the spur of the horseman on the l more obscure (the present one and another impression in the Chicago Art Institute); a second variant (b) with shading added in the lower part of the space between the heads of the two Holy Women at the right (impressions in Chantilly and Cambridge); a third variant (c) with shading added lengthwise along the spears, fringes added near various spear heads, and with the spur of the horseman at the l clearer than in the first variant (impressions in London - BM, P&D 1845-8-25-637 - Budapest and Hamburg, the latter hand-coloured and mounted on canvas).
As already suggested by Hind, the composition and a number of details correspond closely to those in a pen-and-wash drawing in the Uffizi, variously attributed to the school of Baldovinetti or to the Florentine painter Biagio di Antonio Utili (Berenson); Hind and Berenson regarded the drawing as a copy from the engraving, while Oberhuber and Zucker have recently suggested that it might be a preparatory study for the print by Francesco Rosselli himself (for a discussion of the issue see Mark J. Zucker, 'The Illustrated Bartsch, Commentary', vol. 24, part 2, 1994, pp. 19-20, no. 010; for a reproduction of the drawing see J. Levenson, K. Oberhuber, J. Sheehan, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 'Early Italian Engravings from the National Gallery of Art', 1973, p. 54, plate 4-15). The superiority of the print in the description of facial expressions and the spatial arrangement of the figures when compared to the drawing would suggest that Hind and Berenson's view is the correct one.
Another closely related work is a miniature painting on vellum, pasted onto a wooden tondo in Frankfurt (Städelsches Kunstinstitut), ascribed by Oberhuber to Rosselli and thought to be a variant composition of the print.
Hind noted that the image of the scorpion - inscribed in one of the two standard in the foreground - appears frequently on banners in Italian pictures of the Crucifixion and denotes the presence of Jews at the event.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- According to Colvin's report dated 15 December 1890 both this and the previous print were acquired by Deprez & Gutekunst at a sale in Stuttgart in November 1890, and were offered to the BM at a 5% mark-up.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number