Hendrick ter Brugghen: The Crucifixion with the Virgin and Saint John (1625)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA)

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Jesus was crucified. Therefore an painting with this subject. This piece was made by the Dutch painter Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629). The painting was commissioned for a so-called 'hidden catholic church' (Dutch is 'schuilkerk') in the city of Utrecht. During the Dutch war of independence (1568-1648) the official religion of the Netherlands was changed to Calvinism but the Dutch government also gave the people 'freedom of thought' so other religions (protestant, catholic, Jews etc) were tolerated in the Netherlands. Catholics were allowed to practice their religion but the catholic churches were forbidden to look like a church from the outside. In practice this resulted in ordinary buildings to be transformed in a church while still looking like a ordinary building from the outside. These kind of building were called 'hidden churches' - not that the place was a secret, everybody (including the authorities) knew that these places were churches but they were tolerated. Hendrick ter Brugghen was a protestant but created this piece for this catholic church. Mary is on the left with Saint John the Apostle on the right. Painting from 1625.