The Crucifixion of Christ

This painting was commissioned by Philip IV for the nuns in the convent of San Plácido. The monarch wished to be forgiven by the nuns for having attempted to seduce one of them. The Mother Superior devised the idea of placing the novice nun in question in a coffin, and surrounding it with candles as if she were dead. The king was so moved by this that he repented and ordered Velazquez to paint this picture for the convent.

The black background highlights the classic perfection of Christ’s anatomy. He has four nails in his body, with one for each foot. The small block of wood on which the feet rest, make the figure look very stable. The loincloth is reminiscent of the religious images carved by Seville sculptors. Velazquez has shunned the usual dramatic nature of this subject and shows us a Christ on whose face we see no expression of pain, and with just light traces of blood on his wounds. The perfect face is half hidden by hair, and appears to be very serene. It was said that the artist employed this idea because he was unable to paint the other side. But obviously that is just a story…

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns