The goal of this paper is to interpret the painting you have chosen using iconographical analysis by examining its relationship to the textual source upon which it is based, as outlined in the van Straten reading.

Step I: Read the text
Locate and read the text upon which your painting is based:

The Crucifixion, ca. 1340
Pietro Lorenzetti

Text: New Testament, Matthew, Chapter 27: Verse 35-56
Mark 15: 24-41; Luke 23: 33-49; John 19: 18-36
Use the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible:

Step II: Writing the Essay
When the artist painted the scene before you, he made choices about how to interpret the text upon which the painting is based. It is your job as a writer to uncover these decisions made by the artist and to explain how the painter understood his text. As analytic writers, we are not interested if the artist�s interpretation is good; rather we�re interested in how the painter translated his text into a visual representation.

In order to do this, it is imperative that you describe with loving detail how form and composition relate to, and deviate from, the narrative of the original text. Now that you have noticed patterns and anomalies separately in both the painting and the text using Rosenwasser and Stephen�s Method, you are to now look for patterns and anomalies shared between the painting and the text. Write out your observations which you will submit:

1) List shared repetitions and strands that repeat between the painting and text
2) List shared contrasts that repeat between the painting and the text
3) List shared anomalies
4) List differences between the details of the painting and the details of the text.
5) List the two most significant repetitions, the two most significant strands, and the two most significant contrasts, the two most significant anomalies, and the two most significant differences.
6) Write a paragraph about which shared element and which difference is the most significant any state why

TIP: In order to determine the identity of the figures in the painting, based on the text, it is important that you describe them in detail to discern their distinguishing characteristics before you compare them to the text. After careful examination, you may realize the figure may not be who you originally thought he or she was.

Your paper should be organized by focusing on a series of select parts of the composition that you think are particularly important and have larger significance. Part by part, you should discuss how each relates to the original textual source. [See Rosenwasser & Stephen�s 10 on 1 Method]. You should also consider if the painting represents a particular moment in the narrative of the text, and if so, which one.

Discussion of similarities and difference should be rooted in an analytical discussion of your paintings form and composition. Discussion of the textual source should take second place to discussion of the paintings form and composition.

TIP: Organize your paper as suggested. Do not organize your paper by talking first about similarities, then about differences.

Textual References
Be specific about the particular sentences in your text that you are referencing. Footnote the specific passage, by citing a particular line number, like this. I encourage you to restate the textual passage in your own words and to avoid long quotations. If you are writing about the Crucifixion, each of the Gospels tells the story in a different way. You must be specific about which gospel(s) you are citing.


Iconography is defined as the branch of art history concerned with studies on identification, interpretation and description of the contents of an image . The painting by Pietro Lorenzetti ; The Crucifixion depicts three people crucified on the cross and may by use of iconography it is analyzed in the report to in relation to how Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross with two thieves by his side. The painting is based on the scriptures found in The New Testament Bible.
In the gospel according to Mathew, the text notes that Jesus was crucified with two thieves and Pietro Lorenzetti’s painting shows three people who have been crucified. The painting also repeats what is found in the text where we are told that there were many other people at the place of Crucifixion. ‘In like manner the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients mocking him said to one anther’ and in the paint Pietro Lorenzetti paints an image of a crowd and they are seem to be talking to each other while others are looking up on those who have been crucified. As represented in the text, painting shows some women who are looking off this may be traced in the text where according to Gospel by Saint Mark, it is written that there were women looking on afar off . The painting repeats the text in the Gospel of Saint John where it is noted that after he took the vinegar, he gave up the ghost bowing his head . This is represented in the painting where those who have been crucified have their heads bowed except the person on the right hand side of Jesus who is looking up. This is also a repetition of the text in the book of Luke where one of the robbers was repentant and asked for forgiveness . The painter has repeated what is found in the text written by Saint John where he has depicted broken legs of the one persons who was crucified on the sides but the one crucified in the midst has his legs intact . The painting also depicts as written in the text pierced ribs of the person crucified at the center. The crucifixion is also done on the cross as written in the scriptures.
Pietro Lorenzetti’s painting brings out contrast, by use of the setting and figures that can be closely linked to the crucifixion of Jesus. The audience of the painting are called upon to interpret the meaning of the painting despite the fact that painter does not state this out rightly. The painter wants the audience to relate the crowd in the picture to depict those who crucified Jesus. In the painting, some people in the crowd are carrying spears to show that it was a hostile crowd. The image shows the person crucified in the middle has blood oozing from the ribs which is the place we are told in the Bible that Jesus was pierced but does not show the water that also came out. Another contrast in the painting with the text is that we expect those crucified to be agonising but this is not brought out in their faces.
The text which may have informed Pietro Lorenzetti in coming up with this paint have some shared anomalies with his painting. In the text, we are told that there was an inscription written over him in Greek, Latin and Hebrew that this is the king of Jews but in the painting though there are writing on the cross of the person crucified in the middle, it does not bringing out the same message as what is indicated in the bible where in the text, these word were written in capital letters. The other anomaly is that in the text, we are told that there was darkness at some time during the crucifixion but the image depicts presence of light. The text mentions no horses at the place of crucifixion expect a mention of beasts but the painter has painted some people on horse backs. The text also point that those who crucified Jesus shared out his clothes and the painter depicts this by painting the person who has been crucified in the middle naked with only the lower area covered but the anomaly is that the painting does not show the crowd below sharing the clothes.
There are various differences that can be noted between the text and the painting. One of these differences is that we are told by Saint Luke that Jesus said that ‘for if in the green wood they do these things what shall be done in the dry wood….’ This implies that the background of the place of crucifixion was green, but the background of the painting is golden. In the text we are also told that Jesus was crucified in a garden and therefore it is expected that the place should have been green. The text points that that after Jesus had died, a soldier took out a spear and opened his side where blood and water came out but in the painting only blood is seen oozing from the side. There is also another notable difference between the painting and the text where we read in the text that they gave him a sponge filled with vinegar but in the painting this is not seen as none of the persons crucified has a sponge in the month. The other glaring difference between the text and the paint is that according to Gospel according to Mathew, they put a platting crown of thorns on the head of Jesus but this is not depicted in the painting .
The two most important repetitions of the text and the painting are that there are three people who were crucified on the cross and the one at the center had his side pierced by a spear and blood is flowing. The strands of evidence brought out by the painter to link his painting with crucifixion as explained in the text are that, some members of the crowd are carrying spears and also the use of the cross for crucifixion. The most important contrast in the painting is the painter has only blood coming from the side that is pierced though water also came out. Another contrast is that although the painting is on crucifixion where those who have been crucified ought to be agonising, the painter does not depict this as they all look unperturbed. A cross look at the painting and texts brings out two main anomalies where we expect to see a large writing on the person crucified at the center and the other is that we expect to see one of those crucified wearing a cap of thorns. There are also differences between the painting and the text where from the text, we expect to see water flowing from the pierced side and also the background of the painting to be green as the crucifixion happened in a garden.

In conclusion, there are important repetitions and strands, contrasts, analogies and differences between the painting and the text which can be used in the description, identification and description of the painting. The most important repetition of the text and the painting that helps the audience to relate it to crucifixion of Jesus is that the painting shows three people who have been crucified side by side. The person who is crucified at the center has his side pierced and blood is flowing. Strands of evidence in the painting also lead the audience to relating the painting to the crucifixion of Jesus. Despite his efforts, difference in the background where Jesus was crucified with the background and lack of a person wearing a cap of thorns in the painting may invoke doubts on whether the painting can be interpreted as the crucifixion of Jesus.
Pietro Lorenzetti. The Crucifixion. ca. 1340 cited on 22nd November, 2011(database online)
Available from
Białostocki, Jan. Iconography, Dictionary of The History of Ideas, Online version: University
of Virginia Library, Gale Group, 2003.

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