In The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion, Lucas Cranach the Elder chose to portray a scene of religious redemption. The crucified Christ, silhouetted against a darkened and troubled sky, is at the point of death; his last words from the cross are inscribed above him in German: VATER IN DEIN HET BEFIL ICH MEIN GAIST (Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit [Luke 23:46]). At that moment, a Roman centurion, astride a white charger, recognizes Christ's divinity and pronounces: WARLICH DISER MENSCH IST GOTES SVN GEWEST (Truly, this man was the Son of God [Mark 15:39]).

The theme of The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion especially appealed to Protestants because it clearly illustrated the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, the central precept of their creed. The centurion, clothed in contemporary armor, symbolized the "Knight of Christ" who steadfastly defends his new-won belief despite all adversity.

From 1505 until his death, Cranach was the court painter to three successive electors of Saxony. He became close friends with Luther -- who lived in the Saxon town of Wittenberg -- and is considered the foremost artist of the Reformation.


This image is in the public domain.

Please Subscribe or Donate to Help Keep This Site Free!

Share this post