127 cm x 97.8 cm (50 in. x 38 1/2 in.)
(Milan (?), Italy, 1597 - 1630, Milan, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Had Crespi enjoyed a longer career, and were his works not largely confined to Lombardy, he would be widely known as a master of the first order. He was without doubt the finest painter of the second generation of Baroque painting in Milan. In his paintings the willful deformation and neurotic intensity of the first generation are subjected to a more disciplined design and a more rhetorical expression, which he gathered from contemporary Florentine painters as well as from the emerging school of Bologna. The resulting style is highly original in its staging, admirable in its action, and convincing in its feeling.
This picture demonstrates Crespi’s rapid development toward a style of absolute coherence and exceptional theatricality. The composition is related to Caravaggio’s painting of the same subject, and the dramatic chiaroscuro generally reflects Crespi’s intensifying naturalism. The design, with bold rhythms and strong drawing, is conditioned by Florentine interpretations of early Baroque style. And both the palette and striking differentiation of paint handling—compare the rendering of Christ’s tremulous flesh with that of Pilate’s splendid sleeve—are freshly informed by Rubens’s example. But by now these elements have been thoroughly synthesized and reconciled with a persistently Milanese subjectivity. This, Crespi’s mature style, is at once rich in narration, declamatory in form, and charged in expression.