Title:The Three CrossesArtist:Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn Date:1655Creation Place:Europe, The NetherlandsCredit Line:The Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial FundAccession Number:P.12,614
Rembrandt's grand interpretation of the Crucifixion probably developed in tandem with his Christ Presented to the People. It stated out as an operatic extravaganza performed in a radiating cone of light (see illustration). Rembrandt's revision of the Crucifixion scene was even more radical than his obliteration of the crowd in the judgment scene.
He changed many details of the image. Note the horse in the earlier version; in the later one it has been reversed and received a rider. The centurion no longer looks up at Christ; instead, he bows his head in remorse. But most dramatically, Rembrandt took his etching needle firmly in hand to lacerate the printing plate, throwing the scene into chaos and darkness. He had never executed anything like this before or after. In fact, nothing would truly compare until the advent of expressionist art in the 20th century.