The Crucifixion Altarpiece: The Crucifixion (Central Panel)

L 928


The Crucifixion Altarpiece is a triptych formed of three painted panels, the two side wings belonging to the Walker Art Gallery and the central painting to the National Gallery, London. The entire triptych is presently on display in the Walker. Both wings have painted reverses which would be folded closed in front of the central panel to show a family witnessing the 'Mass of St Gregory'. The wings were separated from the centre panel in the early 19th-century before or during their export to Britain. The central panel was acquired from a Mr Dixon in Necastle by the minor artist and collector Edward Shipperdson, who presented it to the National Gallery in 1847. The central panel of the Crucifixion Altarpiece, which forms a triptych with WAG 1225 and WAG 1226, is not painted on its reverse. The painting on the front surface shows (background left) Christ carrying his cross to Calvary. In the foreground he is crucified between the contorted bodies of the good and bad thieves, who writhe in agony as their legs have been broken. This triptych was originally held in the parish church of St Columba in Cologne and was painted for the rich merchant and three-times mayor of Cologne, Hermann Rinck. The anonymous German artist is named after an altarpiece now held in Aachen Cathedral.