The Cruxifiction - 1887
The window displays the death of Christ. It is a powerful, emotive image. Christ’s arms span the width of the window as they are stretched out on the cross.
Behind his head are the partially concealed initials of a sign scorning his claim of being the son of God. The crown of thorns also mocks him as the ‘King of the Jews’. Christ’s head is encircled with an elaborately detailed halo, painted in cream and yellow tones which, during the day, shines with a strong white light. The tortured state of his body is emphasised by the sharp fragmentation of glass over the expanse of Christ torso.
The sky in the top of the window begins as a deep, rich navy and fades into a paler shade as the window descends. The vibrant blue of the sky contrasts with the vivid blood red of the flags, which fill the space under the cross and Christ’s outstretched arms. Burne-Jones conveys the different emotions and perspectives of the scene through his powerful use of expression. The harsh features of the stern Roman soldiers’ contrast with the distress and grief of Christ’s followers and the curious faces of the onlookers – all set against the serenity of Christ’s own expression. Jesus’ mother Mary is clothed in a characteristic blue robe, looking up in anguish at her dying son. Mary Magdalene, a close friend of Jesus, is at the foot of the cross, bent over in grief with her head in her hands.
This is a dramatic scene full of turbulent emotion. The position of the window in the cathedral highlights the anguish of the events, as the window depicting Christ’s death is directly opposite the image of his birth.