Take and Eat, This is My Body

So this year I decided to use a different image for The Last Supper. This image is from the “North” as we Art Historians like to call it. During the Renaissance we have the South and the North. In the South we have Florence, and a move to more realistic images. In essence copying Giotto’s “window onto a world.”

However, in the North, we have England, Brussels, Holland, etc; i.e. Northern Europe. The North focused on other points of interest. They didn’t care about making things realistic or true to life, they instead would often have their figures dressed in modern clothes (using a lot of drapery), focused on patterns, and used lots of symbolism.

This painting is The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts the Elder. In this painting we have Jesus and all his disciples around the table, Judas more off to the side and easily spotted. While some disciples have their own little vignettes, most are wearing the same expression and not as involved in the scene, the focus being more on beauty and perfection rather than realism.

One factor of realism that they do follow is perspective, which you can clearly see from the ceiling and the floor. Just follow the lines of the beams.

Also in the background through a hatch, we have the servants waiting to serve the party. Many believe that one is supposed to be Dieric, painting himself into the scene.

This painting is often seen as the first Flemish painting of The Last Supper, and focuses on Jesus’ role of priest in preforming the Eucharist, rather than the betrayal by Judas.

The Last Supper, Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.”–Mark 14: 12-17

“Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him.  Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor.  As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out.”–John 13: 21-30

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”–Matt 26: 26-29

“Do this in remembrance of me.”–Luke 22:19

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For the previous painting, go to The Triumphal Entry

For more on The Last Supper, go to Do This in Remembrance of Me

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Elevation of the Cross

So last year I decided to do something different to celebrate Easter, that is by choosing art to represent and celebrate.

So the image I wanted to focus on today is The Elevation of the Cross by Reubens.

Elevation of the Cross

What is really interesting in this image is that it is a marriage between Northern and Southern styles. Now Rueben was a very big fan of Michelangelo, so if you look at his bodies you can see the similarities between the works. Both were deeply interested in the muscles and showing strength in the human form. Reubens also mimics Carvaggio in his use of the art form tenebrism and Leonardo’s chiaroscuro. The important bodies are highlighted to show that they are the focus, with the background in shadow in order to show darkness and add drama.

It utilizes the styles of the North as it is extremely detailed, you can see all the leaves and individual pieces of hair, etc. On the right side panel you can see the horses and how exact they are. It is also similar to how earlier paintings in the Renaissance used a triptych or three panels to tell the story. As for the South, it has the afore mentioned characteristics of Michelangelo, Carvaggio, and Leonardo.

Peter_Paul_Rubens_Elevation of the Cross

“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”–Mark 15: 21-23

“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 lovedstanding 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

“The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”  So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”–Matthew 27:62-66

To go to previous Easter posts click on The Betrayer’s Kiss