Both Cranach and Albrecht Altdorfer set their religious scenes in special sacred spaces, surrounded by nature in the wild state: they are places of solitude outside the ordinary flow of life, suited to mystical revelations, meditation and moments of transition, places in which nature reveals her power. In this work of 1503, with a hold asymmetrical arrangement of the crosses, Cranach isolates the figure of Christ against a sky of stormy clouds, while a strong wind snatches at his loincloth: nature is responding to the drains that has just taken place, in accordance with the words of the Gospel: "the sun was darkened and there was a darkness all over the earth." The dead branches of a tree reach toward Christ, recalling the crown of thorns, while at the foot of the cross the remains of a skeleton refer to the name of the place of crucifixion - Golgotha, the skull - and to the mortal remains of Adam, from whom according to tradition the tree of life, Christ, was born. Blood still flows from the wound in his side, interpreted by St. Augustine as symbols of the Eucharist and of baptism, for the redemption of man. A living tree, instead, forms the backdrop to Mary and John, at the center of the composition, separated from Christ and alone in their sorrow: the Dominicans had emphasized the role of the Virgin's compassion and meditation on her suffering had assumed a fundamental role in a mystical movement that was widespread in Germany.
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