The Betrayer’s Kiss


So the next image is going to cover the betrayal of Christ in the garden of Gethsemene and his sentence before Pilate. Now last year I chose the revolutionary, and in my opinion better image, Giotto’s The Kiss of JudasHowever, this year I have chosen the more widely accepted image (of the time) Duccio’s Betrayal of Christ.

Betrayal of Christ Duccio

This image is part of the Maestá Altarpiece created 1308-1311. This image is one of the many scenes of the life of Christ that are located on the back. Now contrary to Giotto’s work, this one is closer to flat Byzantine style, has no perspective, as in the spacing to create realistic distances, and is very staged. To the left we have the scene where Judas kisses Jesus on the cheek, to show the Pharisee’s which one is Jesus. Duccio put this scene in the middle to grab the viewers attention, but doesn’t try to create a world around him, instead only trying to make a beautiful image. All the characters in the back who are angry anf after Jesus are emotionless and unconnected to the scene. They also are arranged funny, as to not overlap.

To the far left is the scene of Peter cutting the ear of one who is attacking Jesus. What is written as an exciting tale, as Peter the impulsive hothead strikes at a guard to protect his teacher, only to be rebuked as Jesus’ heals the man. While Giotto made it more dramatic, in Duccio’s piece not only does it look extremely hard and impossible for Peter to cut of the ear from that angle, but he also doesn’t seem involved in the action, more of doing it half-heartedly. It reminds me of how Caravaggio did the Judith Slaying Holofernes story. In his image,  Judith is squemish and not really feeling it, unlike the story and Artemisia Gentileschi’s (in which Judith totally kicks butt).

To the far right we have the fleeing of the disciples, as they are scared at what might happen to them after Jesus is captured, well actually willingly taken.

All in all I do not like this particular image. It is flat, with a gold background that only adds to make one have no sense of perspective. The trees and mountains appear to be randomly placed there instead of having the purpose of adding to the image. None of the charaters seem involved in the story or with each other, as none seem to connect or react to the actions. This tranquil scene is a far cry from the Giotto masterpiece that completely evoked one’s emotion. But at the time this was highly popular as beauty won over technique, along with perspective and emotional connections not really being popular concepts with most artists.

“Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him.”–Mark 14:43-46

“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear…Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’     –John 18: 10-11

“And he [Jesus] touched the man’s ear and healed him.”–Luke 22: 51

“Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” –Matthew 26: 52-56

To go to the previous Easter posts click on Do This in Remembrance of Me

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