The Crucifixion with Donors and Saints Peter and Margaret

Cornelis Engebrechtsz (Netherlandish, ca. 1461–1527)
ca. 1525–27
Oil on wood
24 1/4 x 35 1/4 in. (61.5 x 89.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Coudert Brothers, 1888
Accession Number:
Not on view
Engebrechtsz was the leading painter in Leiden in the early sixteenth century. In this strikingly symmetrical Crucifixion, piety and dramatic energy are combined, and emotional effect is pushed to an extreme. The figure of Christ is isolated against the darkened sky; his tormented, lifeless body is flanked on either side by the crucified thieves, whose forms are contorted in agony. While the mourning Virgin echoes the posture of her son, indicating her empathic suffering, Saint John gazes up in grief at Christ. The two unidentified donors, probably husband and wife, are physically close to but psychologically detached from the scene.
Inscription: Inscribed (on cross): -I-N-R-I-
Mme d'Oliveira, Florence (until 1887)
Brooklyn Museum. "Take Care," January 1–February 28, 1954, no catalogue.

Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Take Care," March 10–April 25, 1954, no catalogue.

West Palm Beach, Fla. Norton Gallery and School of Art. "Take Care," December 1–31, 1954, no catalogue.

Coral Gables, Fla. Lowe Gallery. "Take Care," January 1–31, 1955, no catalogue.

Columbia, S.C. Columbia Museum of Art. "Take Care," February 1–28, 1955, 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. 93.

Leiden. Museum De Lakenhal. "Lucas van Leyden en de Renaissance," March 20–June 26, 2011, no. 10.

Alban Head. Letter to Roger Fry. March 21, 1906, says it is "obviously the school of Leyden" noting that it shows the influence of Engebrechtsz's 1508 "Crucifixion" [now Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal, Leyden] and that the painter may also have seen the Isenheim altarpiece.

Georges Hulin de Loo. Letter [to Roger Fry?]. July 30, 1906, agrees with the attribution to Cornelis Engebreschtsz.

Martin Conway. The Van Eycks and Their Followers. London, 1921, p. 453–54, attributes the panel to Engebrechtsz; believes the Saint Margaret here is drawn from the same model as a woman in the artist's "Christ in the House of Simon," [Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam].

Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, p. 226, notes a relation to Gerard David's "Crucifixion" in Genoa [Palazzo Bianco].

Paul Wescher. "Zur chronologie der gemälde des Cornelius Engelbrechtsen." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 58 (1924), pp. 97, 100, ill., considers it the latest of Engebrechtsz's surviving works.

Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 166, mentions it as an example of Engebrechtsz's late style.

Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 10, Lucas van Leyden und andere Holländische Meister seiner Zeit. Berlin, 1932, pp. 68, 131, no. 90, pl. 51, dates it around 1520, about the same time as the altarpiece of the "Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes" [now Gemäldegalerie, Berlin]; calls it a "hasty and cursory sketch".

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 125–26, ill., note that the "the breadth of style and the skill displayed in sustaining the effect of agitation" in this painting indicate that it is a late work dating between 1520 and 1530.

Ernest Lotthé. La pensée chrétienne dans la peinture flamande et hollandaise. Lille, 1947, vol. 2, pp. 224, 340, pl. 169b.

G. J. Hoogewerff. De noord-nederlandsche schilderkunst. Vol. 3, The Hague, 1947, pp. 199–201, judging from a photograph, suggests that it was started by Engebrechtsz and worked on by Aert Claez. and another assistant.

G. J. Hoogewerff. De noord-nederlandsche schilderkunst. Vol. 5, The Hague, 1947, p. 132, no. 27, lists it with the works of Engebrechtsz.

E. Pelinck. "Cornelius Engebrechtsz: Die herkomst van zijn kunst." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (1949), p. 62, mentions it among the artist's late work.

Colin Eisler. "Erik Larsen, Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York, 1960." Art Bulletin 46 (March 1964), p. 104.

Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 441, fig. 598.

Gert von der Osten and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Baltimore, 1969, p. 166, describe it as an early Mannerist picture showing some southern influence.

Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 10, Lucas van Leyden and other Dutch Masters of his Time. New York, 1973, pp. 41, 79, no. 90, pl. 72.

Elisabeth Heller. Das altniederländische Stifterbild. PhD diss., Universität München. Munich, 1976, p. 187, no. 99.

Walter S. Gibson. The Paintings of Cornelis Engebrechtsz. PhD diss., Harvard University. New York, 1977, pp. 151–53, 160, 250, fig. 39, places it among Engebreschtsz's latest works, at about the same time as the Berlin "Miracle of Loaves and Fishes"; suggests a fifteenth-century source for the Christ and his two mourners noting that the figures come close to several engravings by the Master with the Banderolles.

Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 205, fig. 366.

Larry Silver. "Early Northern European Paintings." Bulletin of the Saint Louis Art Museum, n.s., 16 (Summer 1982), p. 18, mentions it in connection with the central panel of a "Tryptych of the Passion" by an anonymous Antwerp painter [St. Louis Art Museum].

Véronique Sintobin in 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. 352–53, no. 93, ill. (color) , dates it about 1525–27.

Old Master & British Paintings. Sotheby's, London. April 29, 2015, p. 89, under no. 502, assigns it to Engebrechtsz's workshop and relates the figure of Christ to that in a "Deposition" (no. 502; oil on wood, 18 1/4 x 12 5/8 in.).