The painting that we are offering is one of the emblematic works of the Flemish painter Louis de Caullery, specializing in gallant and allegorical scenes, he rarely performs religious works, however in the theme of the crucifixion he develops a unique composition that he will repeat with variations many times thanks to the success encountered.
In our work the painter immerses us in a dark atmosphere accentuated by a black sky from which barely emerges a reddish light, the night lighting of the scene makes us think of a theatrical performance rather than a historiated scene.
The rider dressed in red on a prancing horse in the foreground looks at the viewer and seems to invite him to contemplate the drama that unfolds in this whimsical atmosphere of the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Jesus on his cross in the middle, looking at the sky is surrounded by two thieves.
A large crowd is assembled around three crosses.
In the foreground on the left, the executioners of Christ with deformed and caricatural faces throw the dice to decide between Jesus' tunic.
The Virgin and Saint John at the foot of the Cross are accompanied by kneeling Mary Magdalene.
A multitude of riders are gathered together, some with lances and standards around the three crosses. Wearing rich and exotic clothes, turbans, extravagant headdresses, plumes on helmets, tunics of all colors, here is a vision of the ancient East imagined by a Flemish Renaissance painter.
Pontius Pilate on the left of Christ, is recognizable thanks to his ermine coat, he watches impassively the torture of Jesus
In the distance, many soldiers patrol the land with spears.
In his palette the artist uses ochres and yellows which he combines with luminous colors of Veronese greens, reds, purples and blues, to which are added points of almost fluorescent white and grey. Likewise, the characters feature almost cartoonish faces with nicely rounded heads, prominent noses, and finely drawn mustaches and beards.
This meticulous work which consists in treating each face, giving them a unique expression and design is one of the great talents of Louis de Caullery, who specializes in the representation of crowds. This technique gives the viewer the opportunity to fix their gaze on particularly detailed figures or groups of figures and contemplate the work without ever getting tired.
Louis de Caullery (1555-1622) and workshop, circa 1610-1620
Oil on oak panel
Dimensions: h. 51 cm, w. 81cm
Large blackened wooden frame with wavy Flemish style moldings
Framed dimensions: H. 81 cm, l. 111cm
The Crucifixions of Louis de Caullery and his workshop are divided into two groups: horizontal compositions, generally very large (like ours) or vertical compositions, smaller in size.
• Louis de Caullery, oil on wood, 72x105 cm, Rennes Museum of Fine Arts
• Louis de Caullery, oil on canvas, 56 x 74 cm, Museum of Fine Arts of Buenos Aires, Argentina
• Louis de Caullery, oil on wood, h. 53cm x W. 75 cm, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels; signed "Cauleri IN fecit 1619"
• Louis de Caullery, oil on wood, h. 75cm x W. 56 cm, Prado Museum, Madrid
• Louis de Caullery, oil on copper, h. 33cm x W. 23 cm, National Museum in Warsaw, Poland
Louis de Caullery
Probably Caulery around 1582 – Antwerp, around 1621
We have little information on the origins of the artist. He was probably born in Cauery, the town whose name he ended up taking and which is located 18 km from Cambrai.
He probably maintained ties with this region. In 1594 he was recruited under the name of "Loys Solleri" as an apprentice of the landscape gardener Joos de Momper. When he became master of the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in the list of 1602-1603, he registered under the name of "Lowis Callori."
Caullery was a prolific painter of genre scenes and mythological paintings. His elegant style is oriented towards late mannerism. His multi-figure compositions have aptly been compared to the work of Frans Francken and other mannerist masters. Small-scale figures are depicted in huge squares, interior scenes or in a landscape with a very large depth of field.
His mixture of genre scenes and landscape painting is thoroughly Nordic and even when he introduced mythological and religious themes it was in the manner of a non-heroic genre painter.
There are no signs of stylistic evolution in his work. Some paintings are dated but they mainly belong to the end of his career, such as the Allegory of the senses of 1618, at the castle of Nelahozeves in Poland, or another version of the same subject, dated 1620 and on deposit at the Museum of Fine Arts de Cambrai, as well as the Crucifixion of 1619 at the Brussels Museum. Given the large number of works that have come down to us and the repetition of certain compositions, it seems that Caullery directed a large and very active workshop.