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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The Taking of Christ

And our journey to Easter continues along…

So the next part I am going to cover is the betrayal of Christ in the garden of Gethsemene. Two years ago I chose the revolutionary piece, Giotto’s Kiss of Judas; and last year I did,  the more widely accepted image (of the time) Duccio’s Betrayal of Christ.

This year I decided to do a later piece. This image is by Caravaggio and is The Taking of Christ. Carvaggio is from the Baroque period and is known for his personal style of using tenebrism. Tenebrism is a way of using the paint to create areas of dark and light, the contrast creating certain illuminated spots.

Carvaggio also liked to create large painting, practically life-sized, that were zoomed onto a certain action. Instead copying Giotto or Duccio, who both showed every part of the Garden of Gethsemene, Carvaggio focuses on one part of the scene. In this, Caravaggio is highlighting when Judas comes to betray Christ. He has already told the centurions that he will kiss the cheek of the man they need to arrest. Caravaggio has chosen that moment to portray, his light illuminating Jesus and Judas’ faces, depicting the calm Jesus, as he already knew this moment was to come. In the background on the right, the light picks up a fleeing disciple, as they all ran away in fear of also being arrested.

The light also illuminates the centurions’ armor on the left, as they start crowding in the scene, coming to take Jesus away.

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“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 the previous painting, go to Take and Eat, This is My Body

For more paintings on the arrest of Jesus, go to The Betrayer’s Kiss