William Roberts - The crucifixion

William Roberts (1895-1980)

Oil

75 x 90 cm

Early 1920s

Methodist Modern Art Collection
No. ROB/1963

Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Registered Charity no. 1132208

Matthew 27:35–36, 38–39, John 19:25–27

Although the three crosses are usually shown in a line, with Jesus’s in the centre (as the Gospels record), Roberts shows them in a tight triangle on the right. Jesus is the left-hand figure, yet remains central viewed from either direction.

At the front, soldiers cast lots; on the left, more soldiers hold back the crowd; on the right, a man in brown/black may represent the Jewish authorities. Around the foot of the cross are three figures – one in yellow, one bearded in brown, and one in grey. The grey figure may be Mary, Jesus’s mother. A fourth figure, in blue kneels towards the soldiers. A fifth, in black and brown, with his back to us, looks at the soldiers but raises his arms towards Jesus. 

Commentary based on A Guide to the Methodist Art Collection.