Crucifixion Drawing Jan van Eyck Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This rare and highly complex drawing was delivered by Jan van Eyck around 1440 and makes use of a wide range of artistic mediums such as several stylus, some pen and brush work plus some lead slate pencil for elements of detail.

The photographs available of this print are unfortunately not the clearest, partly due to the age of the original drawing, but we are still able to make out the important features of the composition and also get a good idea of how it would have looked when first completed by Van Eyck. Most significantly, there are three men hanging from cross constructions at the rear of the work, with Jesus placed in the centre to take the focus.

Sat behind them is a detailed cityscape which creates the location for this moment and in the foreground is an arrangement of other figures who create an atmosphere of sorrow and desperation. Renaissance artists made use of many episodes from the life of Jesus Christ in their work, from his miraculous birth to the Crucifixion found here, and then later his Resurrection. Most depictions would concentrate on communicating the strong emotions of the text to the viewer and this would help strengthen religions bonds of followers.

Jan van Eyck will never be as highly regarded for his drawings as he is for his paintings, partly due to the scarcity of what remains today, but there is still much to enjoy and learn from his work in this medium. Without his undoubted skils as a draughtsman, there would never have been classic Renaissance paintings such as The Ghent Altarpiece, The Arnolfini Wedding and A Man in a Turban. Van Eyck was clearly someone who delivered quality over quantity and this has helped establish his name within the finest masters in all art history.