In this poignant image, the Crucifixion is presented as an enactment of the written word due to the inclusion of Saint Jerome. The Church Father is shown as somewhat detached from the event at hand, but reading about it from his translation of the Bible. True to the account of the Gospels, David has provided an appropriate sense of time and space. The sky is darkened at the moment of Christ's death on Golgotha (literally, "the place of the skull"), and the holy city of Jerusalem with its prominent Church of the Dome of the Rock forms the backdrop.
Inscription: Inscribed (on cross): ·INRI
Mateo Sarasqueta (by 1892); [Robert Dell, London, until 1909; sold to MMA]
Madrid. location unknown. "Exposición histórico—Europea," 1892–93, no. 148 (as a work of the sixteenth century, lent by Mateo Sarasqueta).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gerard David: Flanders's Last Medieval Master," April 1–May 9, 1972, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 75.
Eberhard von Bodenhausen and Wilhelm R. Valentiner. "Zum Werk Gerard Davids." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 22 (1911), p. 186, ill., observe that the streaked pale blue and reddish sky indicates that it is a late work and place it chronologically between David's Berlin and Genoa Crucifixions.
Martin Conway. The Van Eycks and Their Followers. London, 1921, p. 291, lists it with the Genoa Crucifixion which he places near the end of the artist's life.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 6, Memling und Gerard David. Berlin, 1928, p. 149.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, p. 96, ill. p. 97.
M. L. D'Otrange. "Gerard David at the Metropolitan, New York." Connoisseur 128 (January 1952), pp. 206, 210–11, ill.
Helen Comstock. "The Connoisseur in America: Religious Paintings." Connoisseur 139 (March–June 1957), p. 205.
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 81, 126, dates it about 1500.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 6, Hans Memlinc and Gerard David. New York, 1971, part 2, p. 104, no. 190, pl. 198.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Gerard David's Working Methods: Some Preliminary Observations." Le Dessin sous-jacent dans la peinture. Ed. Roger van Schoute and Dominique Hollanders-Favart. Colloque 5, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1985, pp. 54, 58 n. 3, observes that "The Crucifixion" has two levels of underdrawing, one reinforcing and correcting the markings of the first; describes the medium as "greasy-looking".
Hans J. van Miegroet. Gerard David. Antwerp, 1989, pp. 279–80, no. 7, colorpl. 33, believes it should be placed early rather than late in David's career, probably no later than 1490.
Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, p. 326, no. 175, ill.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "A Meeting of Sacred and Secular Worlds." From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 65, 74, 277–78, 284, 287–89, 311, no. 75, ill. (color), as inspiring other versions of the subject ascribed to Adriaen Isenbrant and Ambrosius Benson; notes that, "except for a replacement piece at the right, the frame is old and quite possibly original to the picture"; dates it about 1495-1500
Maryan W. Ainsworth. Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition. New York, 1998, pp. vii, 117, 121–25, 138, 151 nn. 56, 61, 64, pp. 152, 193, 248, 319, 324, no. 83, ill. (overall in color and IRR detail), dates it about 1495 on the basis of style.
Peter Wegmann inSammlung Oskar Reinhart 'Am Römerholz,' Winterthur: Gesamtkatalog. Ed. Mariantonia Reinhard-Felice. Basel, 2003, pp. 183–84, ill.
Mar Borobia inGerard David y el paisaje flamenco. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2003, pp. 85–86, fig. 41 (detail), notes that David used the same model for the Holy Sepulchre in the Ryerson Lamentation (Art Institute of Chicago).
Till-Holger Borchert. "Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 207 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].
Hinge marks at the left of the frame suggest that the picture originally belonged to a diptych or triptych.