He is Not Here; He Has Risen

Happy Easter!

So I don’t usually talk about an image on Easter, but this year I felt like adding one in. The image I choose for today is Risen Christ by Michelangelo. This is one of Michelangelo least favorite works as things went wrong from beginning to end. Michelangelo had a large ego, and when commissioned to create this piece proudly stated that he would complete it on four years. But the first thing to go wrong, was the marble he was carving turned out to be defective. A large dark streak ran through the middle of it, and all over what was to be the face of Christ. Another had to be ordered and shipped.

It was eventually completed in 1521 (three years after the promised date) and Michelangelo’s assistant Pietro Urbano installed at Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Urbano also did a finish to parts of the sculpture that were unwanted by Michelangelo.

Later on, during the Baroque period, the Christ sculpture was covered with a bronze loincloth and the hands were pierced to represent his death on the cross, even though Michelangelo specifically wanted to leave that out. But, even with all that happening; this sculpture is still incredibly beautiful.

Michelangelo always liked to show the spirit of the figure, rather than how they would look in real life. When he did David, he made him a strong, muscular man to represent the warrior spirit and strength of faith he had. With Pietá, he made Mary look not the age of a mother of a 33 year old, but instead having her look as young as when and heard that she would be the mother of Christ.

With this sculpture, Michelangelo has decided to make Christ not as he was on the cross-injured, beaten, scarred, etc. Instead he wants to show him in a perfect glory, strong, body complete, perfect, etc. With this he is showing how all will be in heaven-strong, complete-no matter what our appearance was in the physical world, our spiritual body will never be destroyed or have any thing wrong with them.

It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Michelangelo also has a great use of contrapposto and as always, pays a close attention to detail in hair and muscles.

Michelangelo also gives Christ the symbols to hold, the cross and a staff. The cross representing the sacrifice that he performed to save us all, and the staff to show that he the great shepherd to guide us as we follow him.

For more paintings of Christ, go to At Noon, Darkness Came Over the Whole Land…

For more on Michelangelo, go to Viva Las Vegas

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At Noon, Darkness Came Over the Whole Land…

“The Crucifixion” from  The Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald

Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified, only to be resurrected three days later. The piece I choose today is one of the most unforgettable images.

The Isenheim Altarpiece is a series of panels created for the hospital, Brothers of St. Anthony. It was painted in 1512-1516 (just over 500 years old) and is an enormous piece. This crucifixion scene is the outside panels, the one that would be shown all the time, except for special occasions that would merit it being open.

But before we get into the art, let’s look at the text:

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” John 19:1-7

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth,the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”

So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:19-27

 “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” Mark 15:33-37

So  Grünewald follows the text, showing Christ on the cross, with Mary Magdalene, his mother, and John the Beloved. Mary faints at seeing her son’s death, and we see John catching her before she falls, showing that he is accepting his role as her son and going to take care of her for the rest of her days.

There are a few things that are not in the text but used to create a stronger presence. We have John the Baptist, (who was actually at this point in Christ’s life already dead), reminding us that he must decrease and Jesus must increase in our life as John was just preparing the foundation.

We also see the lamb near John the Baptist, a symbol of Christ being the innocent lamb and the last sacrifice. By the lamb is a chalice which is going to catch the blood of Christ, the Holy Grail.

 Grünewald creates an almost pure black background to signify the depths the Earth was plunged into when Christ took all past, present, and future sins upon him.

Now for what makes this a truly memorable piece, Grünewald’s depictions of Christ. St. Anthony is known for striving to help those afflicted with skin diseases, something that was incredibly powerful as most people who were suffering from such diseases were sent away from society. Because this was put in a hospital of people suffering a similar fate, Christ’s body is to mimic those in the hospital and show that he has encountered all that we have encountered, and that such pain is only temporary.

His body is truly a sight; full of pox, gaunt, ragged, limbs twisted (mimicking rigor mortis), skin green, and utterly in pain. It may be exaggerated in trying to sympathize with those who would be in the hospital, but it definitely makes you think about all the pain and torture he went through from being arrested to nailed on a cross.

For more Good Friday posts, go to The Death of Christ

For more crucifixion paintings, go to Elevation of the Cross 

For more paintings of Jesus, go to But This is Your Hour—When Darkness Reigns

But This is Your Hour—When Darkness Reigns

“The Arrest in the Garden” from The Passion Altarpiece by Hans Holbein the younger

I had never really studied Hans Holbein the Younger’s artwork, other than the pieces he made when in the court of the Tudors, brought over by Henry VIII. I never knew that he made religious artwork, let alone being influenced by Albrecht Dürer (an artist I like and have reviewed in the past) and Matthias Grünewald (another artist I like and am reviewing tomorrow).

But as I was searching for am image to use to show the arrest of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene, I found this one and  discovered Holbein’s Passion Altarpiece. 

When creating this piece, Holbein was influenced greatly by the Italian masters, such as Raphael and da Vinci, along with his father, Hans Holbein the Elder.

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” Luke 22:47-53

So we see that Holbein carefully studied the text to present the image of Christ. Like Giotto, and Caravaggio who would come later, Holbein creates a small window onto the world of Christ and scene of the arrest.

We see that there is  great perspective in this, with all the figures in the scene overlapping in confusion and the attack as they surround Jesus and Judas.

The dark tones and chiaroscuro create dramatic flair and a supreme intensity, the flames of the mob and the central figures being highlighted and immediately capturing your eye.

There are two things that really struck me in this image. First, if you look at Jesus as Judas is giving him the kiss to signify his betrayal, a soldier has grasped him. This is one of the few that actually show an arrest in progress, instead of just confusion.

Also if you look at Peter, this is one the fiercest paintings of him. In this image he is not only cutting off a soldier’s ear, but he has knocked said soldier to the ground, slicing off his ear, and continues to pin him down threatening to do more if waved ahead by Christ. I think this perfectly captures Peter as a man of emotion and one who was always quick acting and intense in everything he does.

A powerful and intense painting.

For more on the arrest of Christ, go to The Arrest

For more images of Jesus, go to But That the Scripture May Be Fulfilled

In other news, this marks my 900th post!

It only took us six months to get here, that’s one less than last time.

For the 800th post, go to Every Three Thousand Years, the Stars Align. Unleashing an Army of Monsters: TMNT (2007)

For the 700th post, go to Fan-do or Fan-don’t. There is No Fan-try

But That the Scripture May Be Fulfilled

For those of you who are new to my blog, every year I do a countdown to Easter by going over different artworks that show Christ and his path to the cross and ultimately, resurrection Sunday. Today we are going to look at the scene of the last supper.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” John 13:1-2

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

19“I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas,the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” John 13:18-30

The painting I choose for tonight is The Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno.

My first introduction to this painting my art history professor used it to compare with Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper to show how revolutionary da Vinci’s work was with perspective, the mathematically pleasing placement of each person, and the fact that he included Judas with the other disciples instead of separating him like other artists (del Castagno) did.

However, as I began to look more at del Castagno’s fresco, I started seeing things that were worth mentioning, things that made this just as interesting a piece.

del Castagno’s fresco was painted in 1445-1450 in the refectory of the convent of Sant’Apollonia, now the Museo di Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia, and remained tucked away for only the nun’s eyes until discovered in 1866.

Like da Vinci, del Castagno’s fresco is huge, over 14 feet high and 32 feet wide.

So here are some things that I think make this a worthwhile art piece and therefore more deserving than a footnote.

First of all, del Castagno created a very well placed art piece in colors and body placement. He repeats the same colors throughout his piece offering different shades in the background and foreground. If you look at their hands you see how he does the same method with their bodies, their stances mimicing each other, and creating bookends to the central action of Jesus, Judas, and John.

Secondly, while del Castagno did not use perspective, as it was relatively new, he does create a captivating portrait with his use of the style trompe l’oeil, a tool in which you take a flat surface and make it appear three-dimensional. While looking onto his piece, it is very easy to forget that this is a design a wall and not the alcove he created.

Many of my classmates laughed at this when they saw how easy it was for Judas to be picked out, and I have to agree that at first I too thought it was a bit silly to have him so obviously separated from Jesus and the other disciples. But even though this was popular to do with artists at the time, I kept thinking maybe there was another reason why the artists did this. Most artists made Judas obvious because the people looking at it needed guidance as they couldn’t read and the image created a better way for them to understand the text. However, In this case, the people who would be looking at this would not only be educated but know the bible, and this story very well. To me, there had to be another reason why del Castagno choose to do this.

I believe the reason that Judas is so far from everyone, yet so close as he is right across from Jesus (an arm’s length away). is to show what can happen when sin gets in our life. Here is Judas a man who has been with Jesus through the years, witnessed his miracles, etc.; but because he allowed greed into his heart-was stealing and sinning- creating that little crack to let the devil in; he would forever be separated from Christ. Physically close, yet eternally far. A message that is important for those who are already serving God, such as the nuns, about how easy it is to be separated from him spiritually, while physically we can appear to be serving him. Remember none of the disciples knew what was going on in Judas’ heart as they can only see what is on the outside, what Judas wanted them to see-but Jesus knew what was going on as he can see the heart. Just as he can see yours.

For more Last Supper images, go to What If God Was One of Us?

For more paintings of Christ, go to Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

So in my book club, we read a book for a month, then discuss it. There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. I went first, so this next month was someone else’s turn. They choose:

Sandcastle Kings: Meeting Jesus in a Spiritually Bankrupt World by Rich Wilkerson Jr.

This book is part memoir about Pastor Wilkerson’s life, while mostly instructing how we can stop being sandcastle kings but connect better with God.

Sandcastle Kings, is the term Pastor Wilkerson uses to describe how we are when we try to control our lives instead of allowing God to have the control. We try and build and do all we can, but is like building out of sand; it is only temporary and too easily destroyed by everything. It make me think of the Doughnut Man song about the wise man and the foolish man.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

In his book Pastor Wilkerson analyzes four different interactions with Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

  1. The Faith of the Centurion, Luke 7: 1-10
  2. Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son, Luke 7: 11-17
  3. Jesus and John the Baptist, Luke 7: 18-35
  4. Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman, Luke 7: 36-50

I thought the book was excellent and two stories really stood out to me:

The first was his interpretation of The Faith of the Centurion. 

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this,because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

First we see that the Centurion respected the culture of others and instead of going straight to Jesus, he instead spoke to the Jewish leaders to have them request on his behalf. Then the Centurion sends a servant to tell him that he is unworthy to have him, unworthy to make such a request; this powerful man humbling himself before Christ, asking only for Jesus to say the word and knowing that his servant will be healed.

This spoke to me as how often to we have a cavalier attitude around Jesus and God. Often we don’t humble ourselves or treat Christ with respect, demanding, whining, sometimes only doing things if we will get something out of it. Here he, the Centurion, recognizes the power of God and also that the mercy He gives is not because of anything we do, but because God wants to. We need to remember that too, that God’s love is nothing because of what we do but because of His Love.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

In another part, Pastor Wilkerson, shares a story about how people treat things that don’t belong to them. For instance, when one stays in a motel they throw their wet towel on the ground, they don’t make their bed, they make messes, etc. People don’t treat things they don’t own or borrow very well. I’ve talked about that before-

With this it made me think of how we treat ourselves. God created us and we belong to him, but sometimes we forget our worth and treat ourselves horribly.

I thought it was a good, quick read, and of you are interested in developing a better relationship with God, or looking to read at Luke chapter seven in a new way, than this book is for you.

For more on my book club, go to Book Club Picks: The Secret Of Chimneys

For more on Jesus, go to He Has Risen

For more C.S. Lewis quotes, go to Perfectea, A Perfect Cup of Tea or Tea for Two

So Sandcastle Kings is not the only King I am going to talk about. We are going to discuss the King of Kings as today is Palm Sunday.

Just kidding, the Palm Sunday:

We are starting off with the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem from the Florence Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” Mark 11:1-11

This piece was only created because of a contest. In 1401, Arte di Calimala (Cloth Importers Guild) proposed a contest to create gates for the Florence Baptistry. Originally the doors were going to depict scenes from the old testament, the challenge to show the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). There were seven finalists which included Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and Jacopo della Quercia. Out of them Ghiberti won the commission, although later art historians found Brunelleschi’s work to be more impressive with his use of perspective.

They later changed the doors to being from the New Testament and it took Ghiberti twenty-one years to complete the twenty panels of the life of Christ and eight on the saints. He was forty-two when he finished.

Ghiberti, like Duccio, tended to cram his space with figures trying to showcase every one involved. In the center is Christ seated on the donkey mentioned in the text, surrounded by his disciples and the Jewish people praising him. We can see one laying his coat down for Christ to walk over.

In the middle background you can see the temple and to the far right, the fig tree that occurs in the next section of the bible, (Mark 11:12-26)

While this scene is crammed with figures , not as realistic as we would see in later artwork, it still is a beautiful piece that evokes movement (although squeezed) and full of amazing details. Look at the beards and hair on the figures heads, the leaves on the fig trees, the faces, etc. Ghiberti doesn’t have a whole lot of space to work with, as each panel is limited by size, but he creates some amazing pieces.

I also like how the donkey looks out at you, reminding and almost challenging you with the question “what would you do for the son of God?”. Well, what would you?

For more depictions of Jesus’ entry, go to Entry into Jerusalem

For more depictions of Christ, go to The Death of Christ

The Death of Christ

1500-Pieta Michelangelo

So happy Good Friday everybody. This year we have looked at very different mediums; a photograph, woodcut, and now a sculpture.

This piece is the Pietá by Michelangelo. He did this piece when he was extremely young, in his early twenties, and it shows his genius at sculpture. Even though Michelangelo could paint and sculpt, he never thought of himself as a painter. He always said that he saw the things he wanted to make in the marble, that it was alive and spoke to him; all it wanting was to be freed.

1500-Pieta Michelangelo

This piece is amazing. First of all it is not proportionate and Mary is too young; but Michelangelo wanted to create the essence of the person rather than the actual, realistic self. So let’s talk first about Mary.

We have the youthfulness of when she was told by an angel that she would be the mother of Christ. She is distraught at the death of her son, that she is holding his body in her lap.

Her body os much larger than Jesus’ is as to mimic the way the mother could hold a small child, their baby; which even though Jesus is an adult he is still her baby. Mary’s stance also mimics the way that mother’s would give birth in that time, the birthing stool. So in birth and death she is with her child.

Now let’s look at Jesus:

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In his face we see no life in him, but that he died with a smile on his lips. He has fulfilled the plan of God and the great sacrifice; to save us and have us reign in heaven forever.

Also look at his body and hair, not to mention the folds of his clothes. They just look so real. As if they are two people under a cloth rather than carved out of marble.

Many people didn’t believe that Michelangelo created such an advanced piece of art, so he went back and signed his name in a large script. This is one of the few pieces to bear his signature.

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23: 39-43

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)… Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”–Mark 15: 33-36

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”–John 19: 30

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open…When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”–Matthew 27:51-54

“So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body…Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”–Mark 15: 42-46

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For more Good Friday posts, go to The Lamentation of Christ

For the previous painting, go to The Arrest

The Arrest

durer_betrayal_smllpssn_grt

So the next artwork we are going to look at is The Betrayal of Jesus by Albrecht Dürer, a woodcut.

Now Dürer was a painter from Germany, his work becoming a part of the German Renaissance. He also did a series of woodcuts, a media made popular after the Gutenberg Press was invented as it was easy and cheap to make.

This woodcut was a part of a series Dürer did, called the Little Passion. This was before he became a part of Martin Luther’s protestant movement; and changed to doing Reformation art.

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So as we look upon Dürer’s work we see a lot of similarities to the Giotto and Duccio pieces I have reviewed in the past. We are given a window onto a world, with the background being about Christs’s arrest and the foreground on Peter’s attack.

But there are a few differences. If you look at the action in the background you see how intense the capture of Christ was. We have men with ropes, spears, and axes; reaching to pull Judas out of the way and capture Jesus. If you look clodsely at the interaction between Jesus, Judas, and the guard; you’ll notice that Caravaggio copied it for his own work almost 100 years later.

We also see a very intense scene with Peter. While most art depicts him cutting the ear off of a guard trying to attack Jesus, this one is more extreme. Not only is Peter about to slice of the man’s appendage, but he has knocked him to the ground, tossed the lantern in his face, and has completely overpowered him.

If you look at Jesus’ face, we can also see that his expression is not one of anger or sadness, but acceptance. He knows what is in store for him, willingly going ahead with the plan.

I choose this painting for the intensity along with the way it brings the text to life. I think this is a powerful woodcut, especially in its depiction of Peter.

“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.”–Matthew 26: 52-56

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For more paintings on the arrest of Christ, go to The Taking of Christ

For more paintings of Christ, go to What If God Was One of Us?

What If God Was One of Us?

Jesus

So the next portrayal of Christ on our list to cover is The Last Supper. Now for the past few years I have been reviewing classical paintings, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper; but this year I decided to shake it up. I was looking online trying to decide which painting to do next when I came across this photograph by Freddy Fabris.

Jesus

Fabris has been recreating famous Renaissance paintings, this one being based on Philippe de Champaigne’s Last Supper.

I liked this photograph because it tries to set Jesus and his disciples up as people ordinary people. Which is what God did when he sent him down to become a man and live on the Earth with us. Jesus wasn’t wealthy or born as a king or prince; instead he was the son of a carpenter, becoming one himself. Carpentry wasn’t as wealthy as tax collecting, but was a solid profession.

I liked the update of Jesus and the disciples being mechanics, as carpentry and fishing are done differently today, and the mechanical work and the strength needed are similar.

I also like how Jesus and the group are eating ramen and cheap cheeseburger & fries; even though it isn’t the wine and bread in the scripture, it does seem like something constantly traveling and moving people would eat.

The only thing I don’t like is that there are not enough disciples in the photo, there should be three more around the table. I also don’t like how Jesus looks. Who picked out that t-shirt?

But most of all I enjoy this photograph because it is a great take on Jesus being one of us.

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.”–Mark 14: 12-17

“Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him.  Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor.  As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out.”–John 13: 21-30

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”–Matt 26: 26-29

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For more Last Suppers, go to Take and Eat, This is My Body

For more portrayals of Christ, go to Entry Into Jerusalem

Entry into Jerusalem

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So the first image we are going to look at is the depiction of Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem for Passover, this day now known as Palm Sunday

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’

 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna![a]’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’[b]

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ Mark 11:1-10

Now Duccio di Buoninsegna or Duccio was a very popular painter. This is his painting Entry into Jerusalem.

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This is one of the 26 images painted on the back of the Maestà altarpiece. Duccio’s work was closer to the flat Byzantine style, that occurred before this period. His work tends to have no perspective, as in the spacing to create realistic distances, and is usually very staged.

Like most artists of the time, Duccio was more focused on showing all the people and the action, rather than depicting a realistic scene. For instance having all the disciples grouped together to the left, overlapping bodies to show faces clearly, rather than having some completely overpass the others as they would look in a real crowd.

The crowd on the left is interesting, as the children look more like miniature adults. The people too are arranged as steps in a staircase in order to see all of their faces rather than depict them as one would see people grouped together.

Duccio played very close attention to the text and tries to represent every aspect of the story in his artwork. He makes sure the all the players: from disciples to palms to the donkeys to the crowd-have a place in the painting.

Something that is very unique about this particular painting of Duccio’s is that he choose to create a type of perspective in this piece as you can see with the building in the background and the men in the trees, although the men are not quite proportionate.

In the foreground we also see that Duccio has created a strong landscape with rocks and trees. The tree directly behind Jesus’ head is supposed to represent the fig tree that Jesus withers in a later verse, Mark 11:12-26.

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For more on Duccio, go to The Betrayer’s Kiss

For more depictions of Jesus’ entry, go to The Triumphal Entry

The Lamentation of Christ

So here is our final painting in our countdown to Easter. Last year for Good Friday I chose Peter Paul Reubens’ Elevation of the Cross, which showed placing Jesus on the cross. The year before I chose Masaccio’s Holy Trinity which depicted Jesus on the cross. This year I decided to do something different and chose a painting that takes place after Jesus has been hanging on the cross.

The painting I chose is by Mantegna Andrea and is called The Lamentation of Christ, but more commonly known as the Foreshortened Christ.

In this image, Jesus has been taken off the cross and his body has been laid out to be prepared for entombment. Andrea places the viewer at the foot of Christ, taking the position as one of the mourning. As we are at the foot of Christ, the perspective is different, giving our eye a shortened Christ.

Here we see a pale, unidealized Jesus, showing the life completely gone from him. We also see the wounds on his hands and feet, the wounds that were given to him to take away our sins. This Jesus also has a sparse beard, alluding to scripture in which it talks about how the centurions ripped his beard out before he was crucified.

To the far left we have two women mourning Jesus. One is Mary, his mother, who we can see the full face and anguish as she has lost her child. The other we can only see part of them, but it is John, also coming to grieve.

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“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed…one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”–Luke 23: 32-34

“Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” …Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”–John 19: 19-27

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“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23: 39-43

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)… Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”–Mark 15: 33-36

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”–John 19: 30

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open…When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”–Matthew 27:51-54

“So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body…Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”–Mark 15: 42-46

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For the previous painting post, go to The Taking of Christ

For more paintings on Jesus’ crucifixion, go to Elevation of the Cross