Oldest Public Image of the Crucifixion
The earliest surviving public image of the crucifixion of Christ appears on a single panel (top left) of the early 5th century wooden doors of the Basilica di Santa Sabina.
The bas-relief of the Crucifixion is one of eighteen panels; ten or so are missing. The panels are made of cypress wood and date back to between 420 and 450. Although the scene is described as a crucifixion, there is no cross. Christ is simply depicted standing, with his arms outstretched, between two much smaller figures, the thieves Dismas and Gesmas.
From left to right and top to bottom the panels depict:
1: The Crucifixion. 2: The Women at the empty tomb after the Resurrection. 3: The Adoration of the Magi. 4: Christ with Peter and Paul. 5: Christ raising Lazarus, multiplying loaves and turning water into wine. 6: Moses in the Desert, the Quails, the Manna and Moses striking the rock to produce water. 7: The Ascension of Christ. 8: The Second Coming or Triumph of Christ. 9: Christ appears to his disciples after the Resurrection. 10: Christ appears to the women after the Resurrection. 12: Christ predicting Peter's denial. 12: The prophet Habakkuk and the angel taking him to feed those in the lion's den. 13: Moses receiving the Law, removing his sandals, at the Burning Bush and with the sheep. 14: Acclamation of an important person (?). 15: The exodus of Israelites with the pillar of fire, Pharaoh drowning in the Red Sea and Aaron's rod turning into a snake. 16: Elijah ascending into heaven and Elisha catching his cloak. 17: Pilate washing his hands. 18: Christ before Caiaphas.
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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