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

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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