Prayer Book of Albert of Brandenburg

Prayer Book of Albert of Brandenburg Crucifixion, f. 72r

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Crucifixion, f. 72r

The final scene of the Passion of Christ (Mt. 27: 33-56; Mk. 15: 22-41; Lk. 23: 33-49; Jn. 19: 17-37) is divided into three different scenes on this occasion. The axis of the composition is occupied by the cross of Jesus. The thieves are not depicted but there is a crowd of on-lookers below. In addition to the soldiers, Mary Magdalene can be seen beneath the cross to the left of the Virgin and John. Jesus is already dead and his side pierced by Longinusís spear, which should indicate the end of Christís execution rather than the beginning. Here, however, the great quantity of Christís blood must be understood to refer to the redeeming nature of this blood. According to St Johnís gospel (6: 55 and 7: 39), the blood spilt by Christ on the cross symbolises the Eucharist in fact, whilst the water flowing from his side mixed with blood represents the baptism. Portrayed at the bottom of the page is the epilogue of the scene depicted in the margin on f. 68r (Gen. 22: 1-13). Abraham has prepared the pile of firewood and ordered his son to kneel on it to be sacrificed. He has even raised his sword to strike him but an angel hastens down and firmly retains his arm. Also nearby, caught by its horns in a thorn bush, is the ram that Abraham will sacrifice instead of Isaac. The rest of the margin is filled with symbolic flowers, such as Annunciation lilies symbolising the Virginís chastity and immaculate birth, and purple irises which, whilst symbolising the incarnation of Jesus, also recall Maryís suffering by the colour and shape of their leaves resembling sword edges. Isaacís sacrifice is usually associated with the Crucifixion, being a prefiguration of Christís sacrifice.

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