So last year I didn’t do this as I was too busy, but every year prior I have always reviewed different portrayals of Christ for Easter.
I am a Christian, and I received a major in art history and history, so it is time to put those to work.
Typically, I have reviewed more images, but Easter snuck up on me this year. So we only have two planned.
Gero Crucifix from Cologne Cathedral
Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified, only to be resurrected three days later. The piece I choose today is from the early Medieval period. The Gero Crucifix was created in 970 and brought to Cologne Cathedral by Archbishop Gero, hence were the name comes from.
But before we get into the art, let’s look at the text:
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
4 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.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 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.”
7 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.”John 19:19-22
“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
This is an important piece of art as it is the oldest surviving monumental sculpture of crucifixion to date. This is a gigantic piece, about 6 feet tall to make it seem more lifelike.
This is an incredibly emotional piece, the way it is created to really capture the text of the bible. In this we can see the great pain he went through: blood dripping down on his forehead, his body is leaning downwards in pain as he can no longer fight gravity pulling him down, his twisted body, the strain on his arms-all the pain and suffering he would have gone through.
He looks extremely vulnerable, no powerful halo or other imagery (although there was some gold pieces added later on). There was a crown of thorns to continue to add to the pain he went through, but it has gone missing through time.
What also makes this a powerful piece, besides size and the imagery, is that this is a reliquary-the head had a chamber where they would store the Eucachrist. Wow-think how powerful that would be, to take in communion and have the bread come from Christ’s body.
Well, I hope you all have a great Good Friday and Easter, however you all celebrate it.
For more Crucifixions, go to At Noon, Darkness Came Over the Whole Land…
For more artwork, go to He is Not Here; He Has Risen