Entry into Jerusalem

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_-_Entry_into_Jerusalem_

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.

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_-_Entry_into_Jerusalem_

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

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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