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Sir William Blake Richmond, R.A. (1842-1921)

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Sir William Blake Richmond, R.A. (1842-1921)

Barabbas at the Cross

Details
Sir William Blake Richmond, R.A. (1842-1921) Barabbas at the Cross black and white chalk, on buff paper 73 x 45½ in. (185.5 x 115.5 cm.)
Provenance
Presented by the artist to the Church of St Peter, Mancroft, Norwich, in 1908.
Literature
Simon Reynolds, William Blake Richmond: An Artist's Life, Wilby, 1995, p. 281.
Exhibited
London, Royal Academy, 1900, no. 1642.
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Lot Essay

Described by Simon Reynolds as 'the most religious of Richmond's pictures', this monumental drawing is not a depiction of the Crucifixion as such. Rather it is a symbolical conception in which Barabbas, the robber whom Pilate released in preference to Christ at the behest of the Jewish mob, throws himself at the foot of the Cross in a paroxysm of grief and self-abasement. The idea seems to have been Richmond's own; certainly it is not common in Christian iconography.

The drawing was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1900, and in 1908 it was given by the artist to the Church of St Peter, Mancroft, Norwich. His daughter Helen had married the incumbent, Canon F.J. Meyrick, on 27 May 1902, and Richmond liked his son-in-law, approving of his broad church views.

The drawing has remained at the church for a hundred years and is still in its original frame. The massive Arts and Crafts hooks on the back, designed to bear such a huge weight, are minor works of art in themselves.

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