This was one of his early works and he would leave a legacy as one of the Renaissance’s creative geniuses, whose art impacted and helped to form the Western idea of religious painting. As a Dominican friar, he created paintings to serve a specific devotional function. Fra Angelico organized the space using a circular plan in which he placed the different figures in, this is a characteristic of several of his paintings and also of other Florentine paintings of the 1400s. The circular plan was inspired by the bronze doors of the Baptistry of Florence. The figures are portrayed with a combination of different poses and delicate detail.
The figure of Christ is shown at an angle from below, while a semi-circle is used to group the Roman soldiers in with the centurion portrayed in an upward pose with the head being shortened to create the effect. He portrays the figures in minute detail, the curly hair on the centurion’s chest, embellished gold decorations of the soldier’s uniforms, the horses which are brilliantly painted from different angles. The separate group of women and the saint in the foreground delicately portrays the grief experienced by the Virgin Mary and the women trying to console her. For the painting, the artist used tempera on wood with the gold ground as medium and the dimensions of the painting are 63.8 x 48.3 cm.
The painting was painted with a specific devotional objective and shows the crucified Christ on the cross with angels surrounding him. There are Roman soldiers and their horses painted in different poses to show the Roman soldiers as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The foreground shows the collapsed Virgin Mary with three women attending to her with Saint John standing to the right of the cross with his clasped hands expressing his grief. Fra Angelico created paintings to serve a very specific devotional function, some works painted for the friar’s cells would be just the essentials, created for private individual devotion.
Other works like his large altarpieces would be rich with detail and his large frescoes in the Vatican would be more detailed showing his awareness of both convent and secular life. The painting of the Crucifixion and Saints which fall in the category of those painted for private devotion. The painting forms part of the Maitland F Griggs Collection that can be viewed at the Met Museum, Fifth Avenue, New York in Gallery 644. The painting formed part of a collection which was bequeathed to the Met Museum during 1943 when Maitland F. Griggs passed away.