Artwork Details

Rembrandt van Rijn


Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves (The Three Crosses)
1653 – 1655
Drypoint with burin on cream laid paper
15 1/8 x 17 1/2 inches
Not on view
Accession Number
Jansma Collection, Grand Rapids Art Museum

About the Artwork

The fourth state of The Three Crosses represents one of the most profound depictions of death and redemption in the history of art. It is the culmination of four variations (or states) of the image that Rembrandt reworked on a single copper plate. It explodes the pictorial space, setting up a powerful contrast between the palpable darkness — into which the surrounding figures are scattered in confusion — and a vertical shaft of light centered on Christ. Rembrandt scraped, burnished, and polished extensive areas of the plate, removing figures, adding new ones, and scratching a dense network of lines that darkened the image. The earlier states of The Three Crosses are renderings of the scene in realistic terms; the fourth state is a meditation on inner spiritual meaning reflecting Rembrandt’s intensely personal reading of Scripture. In both conception and technique, the fourth state of The Three Crosses is a visionary work of art that stands as one of the greatest prints ever made.