This bold oil painting of the crucifixion is by the modern artist Graham Sutherland. The work was commissioned in 1963 for the newly-opened church of St Aidan in East Acton. Sutherland had already created a series of artworks based on the crucifixion, but this was his first for a Catholic church.
In this bright red canvas, he referenced the sufferings of those in the wartime concentration camps. As a result, the death of Christ is graphically and unflinchingly illustrated. His corpse is as skeletal as the camp victims, while the wire fence below and electric lamp above evoke their imprisonment. The painting is hung in the sanctuary, creating a strong focal point.
Given its significance, the death of Christ is mentioned in all four of the gospels. (Matthew 27:45-54; Mark 15:33-39; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30). Drawing on these gospel accounts, Christian tradition has long meditated on the ‘Seven Last Words‘ of Christ on the cross.
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Where to find this work of art
St Aidan’s, East Acton
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