The monumental scale and complex composition of this painting have something in common with other forms of popular entertainments of the period—dioramas and panoramas. Such spectacular works used to travel from city to city in Europe and America, where they were displayed to receptive crowds in galleries and lecture halls. The English novelist Jane Austen was particularly impressed by West’s contribution to the genre: “I have seen West’s famous Painting, and prefer it to anything of the kind I ever saw before...[it] is the first representation of our Savior which ever at all contented me.” When the painting was featured in a special exhibition at the Museum in 1862, viewers received a three-page pamphlet explaining the scene.
Date of Birth
Oil on canvas
200 x 260 in. (508.0 x 660.4 cm.)
Gift of Mrs. Sarah Harrison (The Joseph Harrison, Jr. Collection)