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 Arrest

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So the next artwork we are going to look at is The Betrayal of Jesus by Albrecht Dürer, a woodcut.

Now Dürer was a painter from Germany, his work becoming a part of the German Renaissance. He also did a series of woodcuts, a media made popular after the Gutenberg Press was invented as it was easy and cheap to make.

This woodcut was a part of a series Dürer did, called the Little Passion. This was before he became a part of Martin Luther’s protestant movement; and changed to doing Reformation art.

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So as we look upon Dürer’s work we see a lot of similarities to the Giotto and Duccio pieces I have reviewed in the past. We are given a window onto a world, with the background being about Christs’s arrest and the foreground on Peter’s attack.

But there are a few differences. If you look at the action in the background you see how intense the capture of Christ was. We have men with ropes, spears, and axes; reaching to pull Judas out of the way and capture Jesus. If you look clodsely at the interaction between Jesus, Judas, and the guard; you’ll notice that Caravaggio copied it for his own work almost 100 years later.

We also see a very intense scene with Peter. While most art depicts him cutting the ear off of a guard trying to attack Jesus, this one is more extreme. Not only is Peter about to slice of the man’s appendage, but he has knocked him to the ground, tossed the lantern in his face, and has completely overpowered him.

If you look at Jesus’ face, we can also see that his expression is not one of anger or sadness, but acceptance. He knows what is in store for him, willingly going ahead with the plan.

I choose this painting for the intensity along with the way it brings the text to life. I think this is a powerful woodcut, especially in its depiction of Peter.

“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 more paintings on the arrest of Christ, go to The Taking of Christ

For more paintings of Christ, go to What If God Was One of Us?

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

The Triumphal Entry

Hey, Happy Palm Sunday everyone!

Now I know that not all of you are Christian and celebrate it, but way back I told you all I was a Christian and it is a holiday I always celebrate. So the past two years I have picked different famous pieces of art depicting Jesus, but only starting with a portrayal of The Last Supper. This year I decided to be different and am starting with The Triumphal Entry, then doing The Last SupperBetrayal of Christ, and ending on a depiction of Good Friday.

So we are starting this year with a work from Giotto, Jesus Enters Jerusalem. Giotto was one of the pioneers of Renaissance, looking toward depicting art in a more natural sense, much different from the flat Byzantine style that his contemporaries like Duccio were doing.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem by Giotto

In this image the viewer is given “a window onto a world”; that is we are seeing the scene as we would in real life. People overlap each other, there is movement, emotions, etc. Giotto was the pioneer of creating these emotional realistic scenes, that later artists eventually copy.

So we have Jesus coming into town on a donkey, having chosen this animal as he has a message of peace, rather than war (a horse). You can also clearly see the excitement of the townspeople as their faces not only depict those emotions, but accurately shows the throwing of the robes on the ground, preparing the way for Jesus.

To help further the realistic image, we have the two trees creating a background. We also have people climbing those trees, picking palms to lay on the road, who are smaller than the people in the crowd. Now to those of you who are artist, you might think, no duh; but this was revolutionary. In fact, a lot of people didn’t like it at the time, but it eventually started a revolution in art.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.  If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.  A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:1-9

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For more on Palm Sunday, go to Path of Palms

For more of Giotto’s work, go to The Betrayal of Christ

The Betrayal 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 and his sentence before Pilate. I chose Giotto’s image, The Kiss of Judas, because historically it is one of the best images that portrays this scene. Giotto was one of the pioneers of Rennaissance, looking toward depicting art in a more natural sense, much different from the flat Byzantine style that his contemporaries like Duccio were doing.

In this image the viewer is given “a window onto a world”; that is we are seeing the scene as we would in real life. People overlap each other, there is movement, emotions, etc. Giotto was the pioneer of creating these emotional realistic scenes, that later artists eventually copy.


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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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To go to the previous Easter posts click on Palm Sunday or The Last Supper.

To go to the next post, click on Good Friday