This Saint John belonged to a Crucifixion group depicting three figures. Jesus’ favourite disciple stood on either side of the cross with the Virgin. The Virgin was placed on the right, as tradition dictated, while Saint John stood on the left of Christ. The movement of our Saint John, with his face turned to the right, seems to respect this tradition.
This iconography of Calvary, where Christ is wept over by his mother and Saint John, comes from a specific passage in the Bible, in the Gospel of John:
“Now standing by the cross were his mother and his mother’s sister Mary, the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple [John] whom he loved standing by her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son,’ and then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.
Saint John is standing with his left leg forward and his chest slightly bent forward. He interlaces his fingers, almost joining his hands in a gesture that reflects his pain and supplication in the face of Christ’s death.
His face, framed by dense, wind-blown curls, is marked by great sadness. The emaciated cheeks, prominent cheekbones, half-open mouth, frowning eyebrows and deep wrinkles on his forehead reinforce this expression of pain.
He is wearing a long tunic. The agitation and the wind seem to have blown his coat off his shoulders.