Pietro Perugino (painter)|
Umbrian, c. 1450 - 1523
The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John, Saint Jerome, and Saint Mary Magdalene [left panel], c. 1482/1485
oil on panel transferred to canvas
left panel: 95 x 30.1 cm (37 3/8 x 11 7/8 in.) framed: 134 x 165.1 x 7.3 cm (52 3/4 x 65 x 2 7/8 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Object 1 of 7
Once considered to be an early work by Raphael, this altarpiece is recognized today as one of Perugino's most successful. Its cool, silvery atmosphere and poetic mood are typical of what a contemporary described as Perugino's "aria angelica et molto dolce" (angelic and sweet air). The work's quiet piety differs from the more intense emotion found in many crucifixion scenes. Elevating Christ's body high over the landscape seems to raise him literally above human suffering. The saints who witness the event appear more grave than grief-torn.
Some of the figures apparently were painted from the same model in Perugino's large and busy workshop. Compare, for example, John the Evangelist, at the foot of the cross, with Mary Magdalene in the right-hand wing. Except for a slight variation in their hands, their poses are identical. Even their expressions are the same.
When this altarpiece was completed, the artist was reaching the height of his popularity and receiving prestigious commissions. Later, however, Perugino found his style to be outmoded and his work criticized for its over-reliance on stock figures and formulaic compositions.
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