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Christ Crucified
Bayeu, Francisco
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Bayeu, Francisco

Zaragoza, 1734 - Madrid, 1795

Bayeu, Francisco See author's file

Christ Crucified

1792. Oil on canvas. On display elsewhere

The crucifixion of Christ is depicted by the artist in a barren, desolate landscape, a setting essentially undefined thanks to an enormous neutral background intended to heighten its dramatic effect. The painting´s great size -it was probably intended for a chapel altar- endows the divine figure with a monumental appearance further reinforced by its detailed anatomical study. The cross sunk into the ground and supported by other pieces of timber adds a touch of naturalist realism and verisimilitude to the composition. The skull that alludes to Adam as the first sinner and the serpent that represents triumph over original sin are symbolic elements that elevate the painting´s religious and intellectual content. Both iconographic references appear repeatedly in Bayeu´s images of Christ crucified, several versions of which exist today. Some of these have been interpreted as preparatory works for the version at the University of Granada.

Signed in 1792 by Francisco Bayeu, the present work reflects his aesthetic interest in this type of devotional representations. Beginning with a model that Anton Raphael Mengs made for Aranjuez Palace, Bayeu follows the same guidelines for reusing classicist language that Mengs encouraged in Spain, repeating the academic canons that draw him closer to the cold, inexpressive aspect of the Bohemian painter´s works. Still, Bayeu maintains a powerful religious sentiment whose strength is rooted in Spanish baroque models. This is exemplified by his interest in the sublimation of the religious event through an undefined and solitary setting that recalls the Christ that Velazquez painted for the church of San Plácido in Madrid.

Despite his undeniably neoclassical style, Bayeu more closely approaches Velazquez´s technique in his drawings, and there are various drawings and sketches at the Museo del Prado related to the present painting. One (D3300/FA523) shows the first study for the complete composition. That Christ Crucified with a very sketchily modeled body and without the crown of thorns has a loincloth with the same folds as the painting in Granada, which proves that it was the model he used for the finished work. There is also a second study (D595/FA317) in which the details of the head are much more precisely defined, especially the beard, hair and crown, while the downturned eyes and slightly open mouth are the same as in the painting. In any case, dealing with such a profound subject as the death of Christ, and concentrating all of its expressive weight on the head was something that concerned Bayeu for some time, as can be seen in his repetition of various drawings and sketches of both Christ on the Cross (D3308/FA522; D3309/FA392) and of details for his head (D3284/FA244 and D570/FA239). Other drawings reveal his dependence on classicist models, some directly drawn from Guido Reni (D610/FA435), although Mengs´s overall influence is undeniable. Such a profusion of sketches is proof of Bayeu´s interest in this type of Christ-based compositions, which he repeated on various occasions, as can be seen in the similarity of Christ´s head in the Granada painting to one painted years earlier for the Church of La Encarnación in Madrid.

José Luis Morales y Marín considers this the work that Bayeu made for the king´s prayer chapel at the new Royal Palace in Madrid, which is documented, and it entered the Museo del Prado as one of the paintings from the Royal Collection. In fact, the canvas still bears the number 2667, which corresponds to that collection´s 1857 inventory. In 1881, it was one of a large number of works by great Spanish, Italian and Flemish artists that the Museum ceded to the University of Granada. There, it hung in the Rector´s Hall, where it was described by Gómez Moreno in 1892. Francisco Bayeu´s magnificent Christ Crucified is one of the few paintings from that first group of works sent by Museo del Prado to remain at that university today (Text drawn from Pérez Preciado, J. J.: Obras maestras del patrimonio de la Universidad de Granada. II. Catálogo, 2006, p. 102).

Technical data

Related artworks

The crucified Christ
White chalk on blue paper, XVIII century
Inventory number
P004329
Author
Bayeu, Francisco
Title
Christ Crucified
Date
1792
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 310 cm.; Width: 196 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Royal Palace, Madrid, Princes' bedroom-tenth room, 1814-1818, unnumbered? or Royal Palace, Madrid, Prince's Quarters-tenth room and room of the infante don Carlos-sixth room, 1814-1818, unnumbered?).

Bibliography +

Morales y Marin, Jose Luis, Los Bayeu, Caja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Arag, Zaragoza, 1979.

Espinós, Adela; Orihuela, Mercedes y Royo Villanova, Mercedes, ''El Prado disperso''. Cuadros depositados en Granada. I. Universidad. Hospital Real, Boletín del Museo del Prado, 4, 1983, pp. 126.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Morales y Marín, José Luis, Francisco Bayeu. Vida y obra, Ediciones Moncayo, Zaragoza, 1995.

Obras maestras del patrimonio de la universidad de Granada, Universidad de Granada, Granada, 2006, pp. 102-103; 253-256.

Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Dormitorio de Principes [...] Pieza Decima [...] {21797} 4 varas y media de alto dos y media de ancho N. S. en la cruz con la calavera y la serpiente - Valleo [y=] Habitación del Señor Infante Don Carlos [...] Sexta pieza [...] {21856} quatro varas y media alto dos y quarta ancho N. S. en la cruz figura natural con la serpiente y la calabera - Valleo

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 2667.
Franco Bayeu / 2667. Nº Señor Crucificado. / Alto 11 pies; ancho 7 pies, 1 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 661.

LAOBRANOTIENEINSCRIPCIONES

LAOBRANOTIENETRANSCRIPCIONES

Exhibitions +

Obras maestras del Patrimonio de la Universidad de Granada
Granada
27.10.2006 - 17.01.2007

Location +

Granada - Hospital Real. Rectorado de la Universidad de Granada (Deposit)

Displayed objects +

Skull

Cross

Update date: 12-12-2020 | Registry created on 24-08-2015

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