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The Elevation of the Cross
Rubens painting The Elevation of the Cross shows a strong influence of both Michelangelo and Caravaggio. There are several men who are carrying Christ on the cross and each of these men are showing anguish and strong muscular distortion as they heave and ho to upright Christ on the cross. These muscular definitions and constraints are very characteristic of Michelangelo. In Michelangelo’s work, Creation of Adam, this is best portrayed in Adams body definition. In Creation of Adam Michelangelo takes special care in carving out every chiseled muscle and definition when painting Adam. His twisted body replicates that of the men in The Elevation of the Cross and their inferior strength and muscles. Caravaggio influenced Rubens The Elevation of the Cross with several of his methods ranging from contrast lighting which can be seen on Christ’s head and chest drawing the viewer to the center focal point of the artwork to Caravaggio’s method of strong diagonal composition for Christ, which Caravaggio also used in Entombment and Ruben duplicated in The Elevation of the Cross. In Entombment Caravaggio also set a dark and mysterious mood which through the angle of Christ and the dark background led to a more upfront and realistic view of the painting. Ruben used this approach as well by shadowing the background above the head of Christ and darkening the outer edges of Christ which includes the dog, the rock behind Christ and the feet of the soldiers trying to hoist Christ up. Everything in the artwork goes from dark around the outer edges to getting lighter near the center, and Christ is the brightest focal point in the piece. When comparing The Elevation of the Cross with Entombment, it’s easy to see the similarities in the positioning of Christ at an angle to the brightness of Christ’s skin and body making him the focal point of the artwork and the darkening effect of really bringing to life the center / focal point. It is clear to see both...
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