large oblong plate

The Three Crosses, 1655

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Rembrandt's grand interpretation of the Crucifixion probably developed in tandem with his Christ Presented to the People. It started out as an operatic extravaganza performed in a radiating cone of light. 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. The horse in the earlier version has been reversed and received a rider in this later one. 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.

The Three Crosses
Artist Life
1606 - 1669
Accession Number
John MacGowan, Lugt 1496, Edinburgh; (until d. 1803; his sale, Scott (T. Philipe expert), London, May 13-19, 1803, May 16, 'no. 64 or 65). Ambroise Firmin-Didot (1790-1866), Lugt 119, Paris (until 1877; his sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, April 16-May 12, 1877, 'no. 824, to Danlos & Delisle for Fr 140). Juan Jorge Peoli (1825-1893), Lugt 2020 and 1481, New York (until 1894; his sale, American Art Galleries, New York, May 8, 1894, no. 1873). André-Jean Hachette (1873-1952), Lugt 132, Paris. [Richard H. Zinser, Forest Hills, New York, until 1958; sold, for $8,800, to Mia]
Catalogue Raisonne
Hind 270 iv/v; Bartsch 78; Munz 223 iv/v; Hollstein 78 iv/v; Bjorklund and Barnard 53-A iv/v; Daulby 80
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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large oblong plate