The theme of Christ’s crucifixion before Mary and the favoured apostle, John, is made more dramatic by the figures of the despairing angels who are collecting the streams of blood from the hands and ribs of the Saviour. The black background amplifies the tragic effect, but this is the result of repainting and we do not know if it was added to replace an original background in gold leaf, as commonly used in 14th-century paintings, or in azurite. The painting is attributed to Niccolò di Pietro Gerini, a Florentine artist working in the late 14th century, who made the traditional style of Giotto his strong point, recreating iconographic and style models devised by Giotto and his closest collaborators at the start of the century. In spite of fact that the lack of original invention and not always excellent quality of his paintings mean that Niccolò di Pietro Gerini is one of the least appreciated painters in art history, he was actually one of the most active and prolific painters of his period, a gifted entrepreneur and painter of important frescos in Prato and Pisa, as well as in Florence, and also of significant altar pieces, at times with the aid of collaborators and temporary partnerships.
The Crucifxion, previously in the Serristori collection in Florence, was purchased by the Italian government in 2011 and given to the Uffizi.