Alexi Worth considers Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion and Last Judgment (ca. 1435 – 40) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Worth begins: "For the past few years this has been the painting I visit most often. I love how concentrated it is—as if the biggest painting in the Met had been compressed into a shoebox. The panel itself is so modest, so slender, barely big enough for two viewers to look at shoulder to shoulder, but it contains more drama and more subtlety than any mural. It has everything: blood and horses, mockery and torture, weeping women who crumple into origami shapes, and in the distance, the most beautiful cumulus clouds in the history of art. And that’s not even mentioning the subject, which, for van Eyck, would have been history’s pivotal event. And then of course it is painted with such uncanny finesse, as if we were looking into the miniature brightness of a camera lucida."