He Was Taken Up Before Their Very Eyes

Happy Easter!

So I don’t typically talk about an image on Easter, but this year I felt like adding one in again. This image is from Hagia Sophia or Church of Holy Wisdom. The Hagia Sophia was the most beautiful church in the world, when it was finished Justinian exclaimed:

‘’Glory to God who has deemed me worthy of accomplishing such a work! O Solomon! I have vanquished thee’’

It was so beautiful that when the Ottoman Empire took over, they didn’t destroy the church but chose to instead convert it into a mosque. What is most interesting is that during this conversion different Christian imagery was destroyed but many mosaics weren’t. This is extremely unusual as pictures of faces weren’t allowed in religious spaces in the Muslim faith. But thanks to Sultan Mehmed II for, whatever reason, choosing to preserve these pieces we have our image for today:

Christos Panto Krator or the Deesis Mosiac

This is a huge image of Christ, created to illustrate God’s presence and him watching over us. It is in the traditional style of the Byzantine art as it is flat and 2-D, a throwback to separate the Christian art from the Greeks and Romans.

Jesus is depicted with a halo, something that would continue to be a part of Christ images, and is older in this mosaic-stern, serious, more of the judgement of Christ to come in Revelations.

What also makes this image striking and noteworthy is that in his hand he holds the bible-showing the importance of the Gospel and his teachings. To me, looking at it reminds me of The Great Commission, Christ rising into heaven and urging his disciples to share his message.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11

For more paintings of Christ, go to With That, He Bowed His Head and Gave Up His Spirit

For more Byzantine art, go to Entry into Jerusalem

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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 Triumphal Entry

Hey, Happy Palm Sunday everyone!

Now I know that not all of you are Christian and celebrate it, but way back I told you all I was a Christian and it is a holiday I always celebrate. So the past two years I have picked different famous pieces of art depicting Jesus, but only starting with a portrayal of The Last Supper. This year I decided to be different and am starting with The Triumphal Entry, then doing The Last SupperBetrayal of Christ, and ending on a depiction of Good Friday.

So we are starting this year with a work from Giotto, Jesus Enters Jerusalem. Giotto was one of the pioneers of Renaissance, looking toward depicting art in a more natural sense, much different from the flat Byzantine style that his contemporaries like Duccio were doing.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem by Giotto

In this image the viewer is given “a window onto a world”; that is we are seeing the scene as we would in real life. People overlap each other, there is movement, emotions, etc. Giotto was the pioneer of creating these emotional realistic scenes, that later artists eventually copy.

So we have Jesus coming into town on a donkey, having chosen this animal as he has a message of peace, rather than war (a horse). You can also clearly see the excitement of the townspeople as their faces not only depict those emotions, but accurately shows the throwing of the robes on the ground, preparing the way for Jesus.

To help further the realistic image, we have the two trees creating a background. We also have people climbing those trees, picking palms to lay on the road, who are smaller than the people in the crowd. Now to those of you who are artist, you might think, no duh; but this was revolutionary. In fact, a lot of people didn’t like it at the time, but it eventually started a revolution in art.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

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

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:1-9

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For more on Palm Sunday, go to Path of Palms

For more of Giotto’s work, go to The Betrayal of Christ

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

The Betrayal 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 and his sentence before Pilate. I chose Giotto’s image, The Kiss of Judas, because historically it is one of the best images that portrays this scene. Giotto was one of the pioneers of Renaissance, looking toward depicting art in a more natural sense, much different from the flat Byzantine style that his contemporaries like Duccio were doing.

In this image the viewer is given “a window onto a world”; that is we are seeing the scene as we would in real life. People overlap each other, there is movement, emotions, etc. Giotto was the pioneer of creating these emotional realistic scenes, that later artists would eventually copy.


Giotto1

“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 on Giotto, go to The Triumphal Entry

For more Easter posts, go to The Last Supper

For more paintings on Christ being betrayed, go to The Betrayer’s Kiss