By Anne Leader

Today (25 March 2016) is Good Friday, the anniversary of Jesus’ death on the cross. After the Virgin and Child, the Crucifixion is the most common subject of Christian art, and numerous examples can be found in Italian painting, sculpture, and manuscripts. Whether as part of an iconic Crucifix or the focus of a narrative, the image of Jesus on the cross has been repeatedly reinterpreted by Italian artists to remind Christian viewers of Jesus’ sacrifice to absolve them of their sins. Complementary images include the Agony in the Garden, the Deposition, the Lamentation, and the Entombment. The centurion Longinus who pierced Jesus’ side was immortalized by Gianlorenzo Bernini as one of four monumental sculptures created to decorate the crossing of New St. Peter’s in Rome.

Coppo di Marcovaldo, Crucifix, after 1261, tempera on panel, Pinacoteca Civica, San Gimignano

Early Christian woodcarver, Crucifixion, ca. 430, wood, Santa Sabina, Rome

Early Christian sculptor, Passion Sarcophagus, detail, ca. 430, marble, Lateran Museum, Rome

Altichiero, Crucifixion, 1376-9, fresco, Basilica di Sant’Antonio, Padua

Fra Angelico, Crucifixion with Mourners and Sts Dominic and Thomas Aquinas (Cell 37), 1441-2, fresco, San Marco, Florence

Andrea Mantegna, Agony in the Garden, ca. 1459, tempera on panel, National Gallery, London

Rosso Fiorentino, Deposition, 1521, oil on panel, Cathedral, Volterra

Giotto, Lamentation, 1305, fresco, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Raphael, Entombment, 1507, oil on panel, Galleria Borghese, Rome

Gianlorenzo Bernini, Longinus, 1631-8, marble, St. Peter’s, Rome

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