I am currently on a course run by The Royal drawing school entitled Painting into sculpture. The course looks at those artists who have worked both in paint and sculpture and how one has influenced the other. Our wonderful tutor Marcus asked us to consider not shading or tonality but the use of light. We looked at the work of artists varied as Raphael, Caravaggio and Poussin. But it was Rembrandt’s five etchings of The Crucifixion that were in a class of their own in the way that Rembrandt manipulates the light to create a narrative of Christ’s final hours.
With extraordinary emotional intensity we see the increasing isolation of Christ. In the first etching he is amongst the ‘people’ bathed in equal light. As the etchings move on the figures in the foreground become mere shadows and the figure of Christ separates from them. In the final etching the scene is one of grey tones capturing the moment in the Bible where the sky turns black and the figure of Christ is seen in complete isolation.