The Crucifixion, with its background of softly sketched ruins and “curious little windswept figures,” is typical of Heemskerck’s early Haarlem style, circa 1527–32. The viewer’s attention is first drawn to the prominent figures of Saint John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary, rather than the figures of Christ and Mary Magdalen. This skewed placement of Christ on the cross, seen without the thieves, transforms the painting into a devotional rather than a narrative depiction of the Crucifixion. With his portrayal of an emotional and grief-stricken Virgin, Heemskerck tells the faithful that through the Virgin they can experience both the suffering and the passion of Christ.
Artist Maerten van Heemskerck, 1498-1574
Title
  • The Crucifixion
Date ca. 1530
Medium Oil on oak panel
Dimensions Unframed: 15 1/2 × 14 inches (39.4 × 35.6 cm)
Framed: 17 1/4 × 15 5/8 × 1 9/16 inches (43.8 × 39.7 × 4 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Julius H. Haass Fund
Accession Number 34.15
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W230, Level 2 (see map)
1933, Mr. Benedict (Hôtel des Saints Pères, Paris, France);
acquired by (Paul Cassirer & Co., Amsterdam, Netherlands);
1934-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Valentiner, W.R. "A Painting by Jan van Scorel and a Drawing by David Joris." Bulletin of the DIA 14, no. 1 (October 1934): pp. 2-7 cover (ill.).

Friedländer, M.J. Altniederländische Malerei, vol. 12. Leiden, 1935, p. 139, pl. 66.

Pantheon 15, no. 4 (April 1935): p. 150, (ill.) p. 142. [as Jan van Scorel.]

Richardson, E.P. Flemish Painting of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Detroit, 1936, (fig. 12). [as Jan van Scorel.]

Loan Exhibition of Early Dutch Paintings 1460-1540. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Art. Detroit, 1944, p. 14, cat. 22. [as Jan van Scorel.]

Richardson, E.P., ed. Detroit Institute of Arts Catalogue of Paintings. Detroit, 1944, p. 120, no. 727. [as Jan van Scorel.]

Jan van Scorel and his Circle. Exh. cat., Centraal Museum. Utrecht, 1955, p. 38, cat. 17, pl. 7.

Wilenski, R.H. Flemish Painters 1430-1830. New York, 1960, pp. 103, 108, 114, 140, 165, 236, pl. 285. [as "Detroit Crucifixion Painter."]

Friedländer, M.J. Early Netherlandish Painting, ed. H. Pauwels and G. Lemmens. Leiden and Brussels, vol. 12, 1967, pp. 75, 123, no. 322, pl. 175. [as Jan van Scorel.]

Silver, L. "Review of Maerten van Heemskerck, die Gemälde, by Rainald Grosshaus." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 47, no. 2 (1984): pp. 269-280 [as M. van Heemskerck.]

Harrison, J.C. "The Detroit 'Christ on Calvary' and the Cologne 'Lamentation of Christ': Two Early Haarlem Paintings by Maerten van Heemskerck." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek (1986): pp. 175-194 (fig. 1).

Wissman, F.W. European Vistas: Cultural Landscapes Detroit, 2000, pp. 74-75 (ill.).

Dacos, N. "Lambert Sustris e Jan van Scorel." Arte Veneta, no. 56 (2002): pp. 38-51 (fig. 10) and detail p. 41 (fig. 5). [as Lambert Sustris.]