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This ambitious figure painting was exhibited at Rothenstein's first one-person show at the Matthiesen Gallery in 1938. It was one of several Biblical scenes in modern dress painted at that time, perhaps under the influence of Stanley Spencer. The elongated limbs and expressive faces of the figures are reminiscent of El Greco (1541-1614) who developed a personal mystical style of religious painting using distortion and sharp colour contrasts. From the late 1930s onwards, for a number of contemporary artists, the theme of the Crucifixion increased in significance as a metaphor for human cruelty. It was fully exploited in the aftermath of the Holocaust by artists such as Francis Bacon and Graham Sutherland.

September 2004