Christ Nailed to the Cross

WAG 1186


This painting probably formed part of a large, many-panelled altarpiece. It may have been produced by an unknown artist in the Dutch town of Utrecht. The bearded figure on the left, holding a staff, is probably Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who had Christ crucified. The odd perspective, by which the ground appears tilted up towards the viewer, is typical of northern European painting at this date. So too is the artist’s concern with detail, for example, in the careful illustration of the executioners’ tools. This image shows God crowning Mary as the Queen of Heaven. This event is not described in the Bible but was a popular subject in art. This work was once part of the top of a larger altarpiece. The elaborate decoration on the frame is not fully original. It was probably altered in the 19th century. This is one of the artworks presented by the Liverpool Royal Institution. Liverpool’s economic development grew directly from Britain’s involvement with transatlantic slavery: the kidnapping, enslavement and forced migration of people from West Africa to the Americas and many to the Caribbean. Many members of the Royal Institution made their fortunes directly through the trade or indirectly through the wider economy. This wealth was largely how they were able to bring rare art and treasures, such as this, to the city.