Accentuating a moralizing rather than a narrative message, The Crucifixion reflects the earlier Gothic preoccupation with symbolism rather than the more contemporary interest in naturalism.
Christ, significantly smaller than the other figures and placed high on the cross, dominates the sky. His head bends down toward the fainting Virgin Mary, the apostle Saint John, and four women, one of whom is Mary Magdalen. He ignores his earthly foes standing to the right, who are unmoved by the pathetic sight. This distinct separation of “good” and “evil” is further reflected in the middle ground, where a pleasant landscape on the left contrasts with the barren tree, snakes, and black birds on the right.
Artist Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl, Dutch
  • Crucifixion
Date ca. 1485
Medium Oil on oak panel
Dimensions Unframed: 56 1/2 × 40 3/8 inches (143.5 × 102.6 cm)
Framed: 64 3/4 × 48 3/4 × 2 3/4 inches (164.5 × 123.8 × 7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb
Accession Number 41.126
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W234, Level 2 (see map)
collection of Crombez (Paris, France);
(A. Seligman, Paris, France);
collection of Harriman (New York, New York, USA);
collection of Mrs. Mary Harriman Rumsey (New York, New York, USA);
(Duveen Brothers, New York, New York, USA);
purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb [1866-1953];
1941-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Friedländer, M. J. Altniederländische Malerei, vol.3. Berlin, 1925, pp. 72, 122, no. 77, pl. LXVII.

Friedländer, M. J. Altniederländische Malerei, vol. 14. Leiden, 1937, p. 91, no. 77.

Hoogewerff, G. J. De Noord-Nederlandse Schilderkunst, vol. 2. The Hague, 1936-1947, p. 78 [as the Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl].

Valentiner, W. R. "Aelbert Van Ouwater," Art Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 2 (1943): pp. 74-91, (repr.).

Loan Exhibition of Early Dutch Paintings 1460-1540. Exh. cat., DIA. Detroit, February 1944, p. 8, cat. 2, (repr.) [as Aelbert van Ouwater-gift of Mr. & Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb to the DIA in 1941-cat. by W. R. Valentiner].

Richardson, E. P., ed. Catalogue of Paintings. Detroit: DIA, 1944, p. 98, no. 666 [as Aelbert van Ouwater].

Boon, K. G. "De Erfenis van Aelbert Ouwater," Nederlandsch Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol. 8 (1947): pp. 33-46.

Gerson, H. De Nederlandse Schilderkunst Part I Van Geertgen tot Frans Hals (De Schoonheid van ons Land). Amsterdam, 1950, p. 15, pl. 18.

Panofsky, E. Early Netherlandish Painting. Cambridge, 1953, p. 346 [as Master of the Sibyl of Tibur.]

Catalogue of the Whitcomb Gifts. Detroit: DIA, 1954, p. 27.

Baudouin, F. and K. G. Boon. Dieric Bouts. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux Arts-Delft, Prinsenhof. Brussels, 1958-1959, pp. 124-125, cat. 50, (repr.).

Schmidt-Degener, F., K. G. Boon, et al. Middeleeuwse Kunst der Noordelijke Nederlanden. Exh. cat., Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, 1958, p. 46, cat. 12.

Snyder, J. E. "The Early Haarlem School of Painting," Art Bulletin, vol. 42 (1960): pp. 39-55, pp. 49-52, (fig. 12) [as Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl].

Le Siècle des Primitifs Flamands. cat., Groeninge Museum. Bruges, 1960, p. 78, cat. 24, (repr.) [cat. entry by H. Pauwels].

Flanders in the Fifteenth Century. Exh. cat., DIA. Detroit, 1960, pp. 125-127, cat. 24, (repr.) [cat. entry by J. Folie].

Winkler, F. "Ausstellung Altniederländischer Bilder aus Amerika in Brügge," Kunstchronik, vol. 13, no. 11 (November 1960): pp. 312-316, p. 315.

Friedländer. Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. 3. Leiden-Brussels, 1968, pp.41, 70, no. 77, pl. 87 [comments and notes by N. Veronee-Verhaegen].

Cuttler, C. D. Northern Painting, from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 146.

Urbach, S. Early Netherlandish Painting, trans. M. Kuttna. Budapest, 1971, pl. 24.

Cummings, Frederick J., ed. Selected Works from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1979, p. 71, no. 41 (ill.).

Châtelet, A. Early Dutch Painting. New York, 1981, pp. 140, 142, 229, no. 111, pl. 120.

Sutton, P. C. Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, 1986, p. 81, (fig. 115), pl. 1.

Sander, J. Niederländische Gemälde im Städel,Mainz. 1993, p. 72, pl. 132 [cited under Städel, inv. no. 1048, Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl and the workshop of Dieric Bouts, Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl.]

Snyder, J. "Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl." In The Dictionary of Art, ed. by J. Turner, New York and London, 1996, vol. 20, p. 773 [article pp. 772-774.]

Daspet, S. "Le Maître de la Sibylle de Tibur: Catalogue Critique de ses Oeuvres." master's thesis, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2002, vol. 1, cat. no. 3, pp. 33-40 [also mentioned elsewhere]; vol. 2, (fig. 3).

Scillia, D. G. "The Early Haarlem School of Painting, the Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl and the Detroit Crucifixion." In Corpus of Illuminted Manuscripts, vol.11-12 "Low Countries, series 8", ed. by B. Cardon, Leuven, 2002, pp. 1183-1205, (fig. 4).