Martin Schongauer engraved several variations of the Crucifixion, often inspired by fifteenth-century Netherlandish paintings of the same subject. Here, the thin and emaciated body of Christ hangs at the top of a central cross. On the left, saint John the Evangelist supports the fainting Virgin Mary. On the right, the Roman Centurion and the spear-bearing soldier Longinus (who would later stab Christ to make sure he was dead) look sorrowfully at the viewer and gesture toward Christ. The development of early printing methods during the fifteenth century offered more people personal devotional images that were previously limited to less affordable media, like paintings, sculptures, or illuminated manuscripts. Images of the Crucifixion like this functioned as devotional tools meant to help the faithful to meditate on Christ's sufferings, his sacrifice, and redemption of humanity. According to tradition, both the Roman Centurion and the spear-bearer Longinus, seen here to the right of the cross, converted to Christianity at the time of Crucifixion.


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