The Elevation of the Cross

1609 - 1610


Jesus has just been nailed to the Cross. Instead of focusing on his strained and tense body, our gaze is drawn to Jesus’ arresting face, which evokes the Seven Words of the Cross, in which his abject despair is palpable:  My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew,  27:46), followed by his peaceful surrender to his faith: Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46).


Which role do I take on? Do I collude with the power of evil on the right wing? Or do I recognise myself in the indifference of the executioner’s henchmen on the centre panel? Or perhaps you would prefer to offer your proximity and love in these last moments, like the people on Christ’s right side - on the left wing - including John, a real friend, or Jesus’ weeping mother, the Virgin Mary, who share in his suffering unflinchingly?




Oil on panel

centre panel: 460 x 340 cm

wings: 460 x 150 cm

Antwerp, Cathedral of Our Lady