The Elevation of the Cross (Rubens)

"The Elevation of the Cross" is a triptych painting by Rubens.

Rubens painted "The Elevation of the Cross" after returning to Flanders from Italy. There is a clear influence of Italian Renaissance and Baroque artists — Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Michelangelo. The central panel illustrates a tension between the multitude of finely muscled men attempting to lift the cross and the seemingly unbearable weight of Christ on the cross.

Michelangelo's foreshortening is evident in the contortions of the struggling, strapping men. Christ cuts across the central panel in a diagonal, stylistically akin to Caravaggio's Entombment where both descent and ascent are in play at a key moment. Motion, space and time are illustrated along with the struggle to upright the Christ. Rubens uses dynamic color and chiaroscuro boldly, a style that will become more subtle with time.


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