The Purpose of Amplification

[aras-image:5Ga.052,a,8,,,Figure 3 The crucifixion on the Isenheim Altar.]

We compared earlier several paintings of the Crucifixion of Christ. While two of these have a common pictorial content within the traditions of Western painting and Catholic Christianity, their import is different. Christ in the Perugino Crucifixion rises serenely above the Italian spring landscape in the background, while in the Grünewald version from the Isenheim Altar the tortured, twisted body agonizes on the roughly hewn cross. The iconographic details are identical: Christ on the cross in the center of the composition with Mary on the right and John on the left but the affective responses elicited are markedly different. The Grünewald symbolizes the "suffering lamb of God" while the Perugino anticipates the transcendent glory of the resurrection. Totally different is the Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali. With superb draughtmanship and a projection of deep space, Dali's Christ floats on the cross in the space above the Sea of Galilee, a reference certainly to the ecstatic vision of the Spanish mystic. The import of each of these carries its unique meaning.