Painted Prints - The Revelation  of Color
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Colour Process Makers Purpose Exhibition History Gallery
Christ on the Cross with Angels
c. 1465-1475
Unidentified printmaker and unidentified colorist
Upper German, fifteenth century
Woodcut with transparent washes
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.: Rosenwald Collection

The painting of this woodcut demonstrates that the color added to early prints was not just decorative, but essential to the meaning of the image. This Crucifixion scene includes three angels hovering under Christ’s wounds. Each angel holds a chalice intended to catch the blood dripping from his hands, feet, and pierced side. The blood, however, is not depicted in the printed design. To be a complete image, this woodcut required the addition of red paint.
Why is the red for the blood different than the red of the cloth?
See what the print would have looked like without the red paint.