Assignment 1: Formal Analysis
Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden’s The Descent from the Cross created in approximately 1435, is a very beautiful painting representative of the Northern Renaissance Period in Museo del Prado, Madrid. The Descent from the Cross is oil on panel painting which is 7ft 2 5/8inches by 8ft 7/8inches. The Descent from the Cross depicts the crucified Jesus being lowered from the cross. Weyden’s painting, The Descent from the Cross seems as if it was painted on a confined surface. This painting is asymmetrical and does not create balance. The shape of the painting is quite odd and resembles the cross in which Jesus died. There are ten large figures, densely packed in this small amount of space. This confinement provides drama and a sense of crowdedness to the painting. This allows people to see the grief on everyone’s face and how their bodies are positioned. The colors used in this painting add to the grief that is present on everyone’s face as well. The dark colors seem to provide some sadness to the painting. On the side of the painting you see hues of brown’s and gold’s which are close in shade and to the left you see red, blue, gold, green and white which are not close in shade. However, the red and white colors used in the picture will draw a person’s eyes back to the center of the painting. Weyden uses light in this painting which is mostly focused on Jesus being lowered from the cross who is in the center of the picture. The light used in the picture also adds to the drama that is taking place. The light also focuses on Mary’s lifeless body as her immense grief causes her to faint. In her fall, her body takes on the same shape as her son's, implying that her suffering is close to his. Weyden’s use of lighting, space and color in this painting conveys the grief that was taking place. The crowdedness in the painting conveys that this was a very intimate time of grief for the people.