Jan Van Eyck Crucifixion and Last Judgement
The two panels may have been the wings of a triptych, but there is no certainty about that. In the 19th century the paintings were transferred from panel to canvas.
Three parts can be distinguished in the Crucifixion. The foreground shows weeping women. Under the crosses Van Eyck created a vivid scene with soldiers and others. In the top part the three crucified men are shown, with Jesus Christ in the center.
Perhaps the most remarkable part of the Crucifixion is the astonishing depth of the landscape behind the crosses. Van Eyck applied a splendid spatial perspective.
A vertical axis is the key to the composition of the Last Judgment: Christ as judge at the top, and archangel Michael controlling the underworld.
Next to Jesus are the virgin Mary and John the Baptist. They seem to float above the chosen, the dead that were allowed into Heaven.
No daylight enters the underworld where the doomed dwell for ever. It looks as if the dead enter Hell through the skeleton of Death. (copyright Art & Bible)
note: As we celebrate Christs triumph over death, I find the underworld reminder a somber reality often overlooked, but edifying nonetheless. Please click on the image to enlarge