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Golgotha, 1884

Munkácsy continued working on the subject-matter while Christ before Pilate was being exhibited and in 1881 he made oil and drawing studies for his painting entitled Golgotha. Once again he used models, first of all for the figure of the crucified Christ, but after the model fell off the pedestal and was injured, Munkácsy tied himself to the cross. A photograph of this taken by his friend can be seen in the exhibition. In 1883 he was already working on the big painting that portrays the tragedy of Christ at its most critical: the moment of death. Munkácsy's outstanding character portraits are best shown in the figures represented here. The faces of the characters display shock, doubt or apathy, while the man on the horse in white clothes refers to the resurrected Saviour according to a passage in St John's Book of Revelation. One can see John and the three Marias kneeling under the Cross, who with resignation and even painful gestures display to the world the essence of the moment, the tragic death. The emotional efficiency is heightened by the background landscape and the mass of dark clouds gathering above the characters. The painting was exhibited at Easter in 1884 by Sedelmeyer in his own palace together with the other Christ painting. The success was such that Guy de Maupassant referred to this event and the sensation that it caused in Paris in his novel, Bel Ami. Beside this, numerous critiques were published during this time, one of them was written by Alfred von Wurzbach "...The Crucifixion, or rather Golgotha is the most remarkable work of art since Rembrandt's Night Watch, and for 222 years no artist has produced a painting comparable to these two, except maybe Munkácsy's Christ before Pilate."

After the exhibition the critics and the public expected the third part of the trilogy to the The Resurrection. However he didn't continue with this, perhaps because some Church elders promised to buy the two paintings after the Budapest exhibition, but then failed to do so. After this the artist was busy with the Stations of the Cross, which he painted in four different versions, and three of these can be seen in the current exhibition. The most significant of them is the monumental gothic arched shaped painting made in 1895 for the mausoleum of the Andrássy family, Tőketerebes (currently in Slovakia).