Sep 17, 2010

The Unrepentant Thief

The Unrepentant Thief

c. 1530


(Italian, 1477–1549)

Black chalk

Support: Cream(1) laid paper lined with Japanese paper

Sheet: 14 x 8.7 cm (5 1/2 x 3 7/16 in.); Secondary Support: 14.8 x 9.5 cm (5 13/16 x 3 3/4 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1998.108



Two thieves were crucified with Christ on Mount Golgotha. One, recognizing Christ's innocence, re-pented his sins, while the other reviled him. In paintings of the crucifixion, this unrepentant thief is depicted at Christ's left. The angle of the cross in this drawing indicates that it is the unrepentant thief who here struggles against the binding ropes. Sodoma was born and trained in Lombardy, but spent most of his life in Siena, where he dominated Sienese painting during the first half of the 16th century. Known for his emotionally charged paintings as well as for his eccentric lifestyle, Sodoma's individuality is evident in his drawings. Here, in the first drawing by this important Renaissance artist to enter the museum's collection, the scratchy and trailing lines of the figure, with its various pentimenti (changes) create the active tension and nervous movement that both enliven the form and suggest the pain of the suffering thief.

See also
DR - Italian
Type of artwork: 
Black chalk

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