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

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