The skies darkened during the crucifixion according to the Gospels. Rubens picked up on this dramatic mood and used the dark background to accentuate Christ’s body. In a departure from iconic tradition, however, Christ is not depicted with his arms stretched out far apart. The lifeless body has lost its tension and hangs heavily. Rubens could have been inspired to paint this realistic rendering by the increasing interest at that time in humanist circles in the crucifixion practices of Antiquity.