El Greco (1541-1614)
Crucifixion is a small-format work depicting the moment of Christ's expiration on the Cross, a theme developed by El Greco in various small versions between 1573 and 1578. This work is the latest version and the culmination of them all, and may have been executed during his last Roman period or during his initial period in Toledo, where he arrived in 1577.
The figure of Christ is notable for its powerful anatomy and monumentality, probably inspired by a drawing by Michelangelo. He is crucified with four nails. The figure is isolated in a landscape with a horizon, in the lower plane a wooded background with a slightly sketchy outline of a city, and in the upper plane the characteristic background of clouds, the hallmark of El Greco's style.
The work also has an erudition that gives it a unique character, as it does not appear in the artist's other Crucifixions. On the cartouche, where the inscription INRI usually appears, there is a text of three inverted lines. It should be read from right to left according to Hebrew tradition. The name Nazarenus appears in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. It is a reproduction of one of the relics of the Crucifixion venerated in the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Rome) which Leticia Ruiz, a specialist in the artist, believes must have been made to "please a client of notable antiquarian erudition, perhaps one of the Spanish friends he frequented in Rome".