The Crucifixion

Design attributed to Bernard van Orley Netherlandish
Workshop director Pieter van Aelst the Younger Flemish
Workshop director Pieter de Pannemaker Netherlandish

Not on view

With the crucified Christ anchoring the composition, a host of angels fills a turbulent sky, holding the symbols of the Passion. Below, John the Evangelist strides in from the left; at the right, Mary Magdalene, richly-dressed fitting to the popular perception of her as a reformed courtesan, elegantly crumples forward with hand-wringing grief. Also weeping, the Virgin Mary gazes up at her son, and a third holy woman, possibly Mary of Cleophas, embraces the cross. The painterly detail of the tapestry’s design extends to the minutely observed background landscape, in which the bracketing episodes of the carrying of the cross and the entombment can be glimpsed flanking the central scene. To this the virtuoso tapestry-weavers, clearly at the pinnacle of their profession, have brought a material sumptuousness which would have glimmered in the candlelight and which serve to rank this tapestry amongst the richest survivals of the period.

The Crucifixion, Design attributed to Bernard van Orley (Netherlandish, Brussels ca. 1492–1541/42 Brussels), Wool, silk, silver thread, silver-gilt thread (20-21 warps per inch, 7-8 per cm.), Netherlandish, Brussels

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