Friday, 25 March 2016

Station 14: Jesus is placed in his tomb

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
John 12:24

Hans Holbein the Younger - Christ's Body in the Grave

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb is an oil and tempera on limewood painting created by the German artist and printmaker Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/8 – 1543) between 1520–22. The work shows a life-size, grotesque depiction of the stretched and unnaturally thin body of Jesus Christ lying in his tomb. Holbein shows the dead Son of God after he has suffered the fate of an ordinary human.

The painting is especially notable for its dramatic dimensions (30.5 cm x 200 cm), and the fact that Christ's face, hands and feet, as well as the wounds in his torso, are depicted as realistic dead flesh in the early stages of putrefaction. His body is shown as long and emaciated while eyes and mouth are left open. The effect of the open eyes and mouth has been described by the art critic Michel Onfray as giving the impression that "the viewer sees Christ seeing: he might also perceive what death has in store, because he's staring at the heavens, while his soul is probably there already. No-one has taken the trouble to close his mouth and his eyes. Or else Holbein wants to tell us that, even in death, Christ still looks and speaks."

Christ is shown with three visible wounds; on his hand, side and feet. Describing on the artists' use of unflinching realism, Bätschmann and Griener noted that Christ's raised and extended middle finger appears to "reach towards the beholder", while his strands of hair "look as if they are breaking through the surface of the painting". Above the body, angels holding instruments of the Passion bear an inscription in brush on paper inscribed with the Latin words "IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM" (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews).

Raphael - The Entombment
The Deposition, also known as the Pala Baglione, Borghese Deposition or The Entombment, is an oil painting by the Italian High Renaissance painter Raphael. Signed and dated "Raphael Urbinas MDVII (1507)", the painting is in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. It is the central panel of a larger altarpiece commissioned by Atalanta Baglioni of Perugia in honor of her slain son, Grifonetto Baglioni. The painting is on wood panel and measures 184 x 176 cm.

Looking at the painting, the scene is actually neither the Deposition nor the Entombment, but located somewhere in-between. We can determine this through the background: on the right is Mount Calvary, the location of the Crucifixion and Deposition, and on the left is the cave where the Entombment will take place. And so two men, lacking halos, use a piece of linen to carry the dead Christ and it seems as if all the participants in the bearing of the body are in suspended animation.

The two men and Christ form very strong diagonals in the shape of a V. The younger man on the right holding Christ is posited to be a representation of the slain youth, Grifonetto himself. Besides the two men carrying the body, we have St. John and Nicodemus behind and to the left and Mary Magdalene holding the hand of Christ. The legs of St. John and Nicodemus do present a distracting problem, especially in the case of Nicodemus because due to the obstruction of the view, it is not clear what he is exactly doing, or what he is exactly looking at.

On the far right, in the other figural group slightly behind the action, are the three Marys supporting the Virgin Mary, who has fainted (a controversial depiction known as the Swoon of the Virgin) most likely due to her overwhelming grief. The way in which the Virgin is kneeling is excessively awkward, with extreme torsion and sharply cut drapery, also known as a figura serpentinata. Though seen in other famous works, her positioning seems to have been directly inspired by the example of Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo, completed only a few years earlier. In terms of colour, Raphael balances his use of strong reds, blues, yellows and greens and he creates subtle contrast in his flesh tones, best seen with the living Mary Magdalene’s holding of the dead Christ’s hand.

Rembrandt van Rijn - The Entombment
This Oil on panel, 32 x 41 cm painting was made by Rembrandt circa 1635.
This moving painting is an almost monochrome oil painting from Rembrandt's early years in Amsterdam. It shows the burial of Christ taking place deep inside the rock tomb, by torchlight. It was a personal work which the artist kept in his living room, and he seems to have painted it as an example of his skill in painting devotional works.

Station 13: Jesus is taken down from cross

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
Luke 24:26

The Descent from the Cross (or Deposition of Christ, or Descent of Christ from the Cross) is a panel painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden created c. 1435, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The crucified Christ is lowered from the cross, his lifeless body held by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Detail Christ hand
The c. 1435 date is estimated based on the work's style, and because the artist acquired wealth and renown around this time, most likely from the prestige this work allowed him.[1] It was painted early in his career, shortly after he completed his apprenticeship with Robert Campin and shows the older painter's influence, most notable in the hard sculpted surfaces, realistic facial features and vivid primary colours, mostly reds, whites and blues.[2] The work was a self-conscious attempt by van der Weyden to create a masterpiece that would establish an international reputation. Van der Weyden positioned Christ's body in the T-shape of a crossbow to reflect the commission from the Leuven guild of archers (Schutterij) for their chapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Ginderbuiten (Notre-Dame-hors-les-Murs).

Art historians have commented that this work was arguably the most influential Netherlandish painting of Christ's crucifixion, and that it was copied and adapted on a large scale in the two centuries after its completion. The emotional impact of the weeping mourners grieving over Christ's body, and the subtle depiction of space in van der Weyden's work have generated extensive critical comments, one of the most famous being, that of Erwin Panofsky: "It may be said that the painted tear, a shining pearl born of the strongest emotion, epitomizes that which Italian most admired in Early Flemish painting: pictorial brilliance and sentiment".

Peter Paul Rubens - Deposition (central panel)

Joseph of Arimathea has been granted permission to take down the body of Christ - a special dispensation, since it was customary to let the bodies hang. John the Apostle, Nicodemus and two servants lend a hand. Christ's feet are resting on Mary Magdalene's shoulders. The woman in blue is Mary, Mother of Christ.

This is the central panel of a triptych. A single element unites the three scenes - Christ is portrayed as being carried. Rubens made this painting for the Guild of Arquebusiers, who wanted their patron Saint Christopher (meaning: carrier of Christ) portrayed. If Rubens had complied with this wish, he would have had to explain himself to the authorities, because the strict Contra-Reformation's principles did not allow portraits of saints to be hung in cathedrals. Instead, Rubens chose to hide all references to Christopher by portraying Christ as being carried in all three panels.

Rembrandt - Decent from cross

Joseph of Arimathea is helping Jesus down from the cross. The man in the blue suit assisting him, is a self-portrait of Rembrandt again. The man watching the action is Nicodemus, a person mentioned only in the Gospel of John. To the left, in the dark, Mary his mother has fainted.
There is some similarity with the Descent from the Cross by Rubens, but Rembrandt's work is more serene than the dramatic tableau by Rubens.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross

rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[a] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:7-8

Antony van Dyck - Crucifixion

Anthony van Dyck painted the crucifixion in 1622. Anthony van Dyck studied under Peter Paul Rubens and was one of his most accomplished students. Van Dyck's career flourished and he went on to become England's leading court painter. Using his own compositional techniques, van Dyck was soon ranked alongside Titian in terms of style and the relaxed elegance of his portraits helped shape English portraiture for almost two centuries. The bold use of colour, like Rubens, the Italian drama style made van Dyck to a successful Flemish painter.

Velazquez - Crucifixion
Christ Crucified is a 1632 painting by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) depicting the Crucifixion of Jesus. The work, painted in oil on canvas, measures 249 × 170 cm and is owned by the Museo del Prado. 

Velázquez master, Francisco Pacheco, a big supporter of classicist painting, painted the crucified Christ using the same iconography later adopted by Velázquez: four nails, feet together and supported against a little wooden brace. Both arms draw a subtle curve, instead of forming a triangle. The loincloth is painted rather small, thus showing the nude body as much as possible. The head shows a narrow halo, as if it came from the figure itself; the face is resting on the chest, showing just enough of his features. The long, straight hair covers a great part of the face, perhaps foreshadowing the death, already inflicted as shown by the wound on the right side. It lacks the characteristic dramatic qualities of Baroque van Dyck painting.

Salvador Dalí - Christ of Saint John of the Cross
Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí made in 1951. It depicts Jesus Christ on the cross in a darkened sky floating over a body of water complete with a boat and fishermen. Although it is a depiction of the crucifixion, it is devoid of nails, blood, and a crown of thorns, because, according to Dalí, he was convinced by a dream that these features would mar his depiction of Christ. Also in a dream, the importance of depicting Christ in the extreme angle evident in the painting was revealed to him.

The painting is known as the Christ of Saint John of the Cross, because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar John of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ's arms; the circle is formed by Christ's head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may refer to Platonic thought.

In order to create the figure of Christ, Dalí had Hollywood stuntman Russell Saunders suspended from an overhead gantry, so he could see how the body would appear from the desired angle. The depicted body of water is the bay of Port Lligat, Dalí's residence at the time of the painting.

Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross

"For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."
John 6:38 

Crucifixion was often performed in order to terrorize and dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating particularly heinous crimes. Victims were left on display after death as warnings to others who might attempt dissent. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of crucifying"), gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal.

The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem (70), "the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest."

The length of time required to reach death could range from hours to days depending on method, the victim's health, and the environment. Death could result from any combination of factors. A theory attributed to Pierre Barbet holds that, when the whole body weight was supported by the stretched arms, the typical cause of death was asphyxiation. He wrote that the condemned would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to hyper-expansion of the chest muscles and lungs. The condemned would therefore have to draw himself up by his arms, leading to exhaustion, or have his feet supported by tying or by a wood block. When no longer able to lift himself, the condemned would die within a few minutes.(Wikipedia)

Bertram of Minden - Crucifixion

Master Bertram (c.1345–c.1415), also known as Meister Bertram and Master of Minden, was a German International Gothic painter primarily of religious art. This is the left panel of Bertram's Passion altar-piece, the triptych he made for St. Johns in Hamburg. It is one of few works that depict the actual nailing to the cross. The centre panel shows the coronation of Mary. The outer panels show this Crucifixion, Jesus before Pilate, Mary and John under the Cross, and the Entry into Jerusalem.

Michelangelo Buonarroti-
Crucifixion with Mary and John
The masterpiece by Michelangelo.A modest representation of the crucifixion. Next to Jesus are two lamenting angels. Mary and John the Evangelist stand besides the cross. Under the cross is a scull, the traditional reference to the location: Golgotha, Place of the Scull.
In Rome Michelangelo was befriended to a group of intellectuals who sought a more spiritual approach of religion. That influence may be reflected in this painting without background: the background is irrelevant to the story, so why show it.

Around 1540 Michelangelo made a drawing with the Crucifixion for his friend Vittoria Colonna. It is similar to the painting, albeit that Mary and John are not shown. The drawing is in the British Museum in London.

The raising of the cross by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669). Rembrandt painted this circa 1633. He used oil on canvas and the picture is 96,2 x 72,2 cm. It is part of the collection of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

Overseeing the whole scene is a white-turbaned commander who also resembles very much the self-portraits by Rembrandt. Positioned behind the Crucifixion scene, he seems to both look out of the painting and observe the action. However, as another alter ego of Rembrandt, he is not looking out at us but into the mirror of his own mind. His historically inappropriate turban is also significant because artists often wore turbans in the studio to keep paint off their hair.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments

“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:33 

El Greco - The disrobing of Christ

The Disrobing of Christ or El Expolio (Latin: Exspolĭum) is a painting begun in the summer of 1577 and completed in the spring of 1579 for the High Altar of the sacristy of the Cathedral of Toledo, where it still hangs. It is one of El Greco's most famous works. A document dated July 2, 1577 which refers to this painting is the earliest record of El Greco's presence in Spain. The commission for the painting was secured thanks to El Greco's friendship from Rome with Luis, the son of Diego de Castilla, the dean of the Cathedral of Toledo.

James Reid - Jesus is stripped of his garments
In his book "The Life of Christ in Woodcuts" by James Reid (1907 - 1989), published in 1930 was this impressive woodcut. It shocked me maybe more than the crucifixion images. Perhaps is the light - dark contrast that makes this one so powerful. 

Leonard Porter - Where Christ is stripped off is garments
Another moving painting by Leonard Porter.
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him.(Matthew 27:27-31)

Station 9: Jesus falls a third time

"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 14:11

Eric Gill - Jesus falls a third time

Eric Gill (1882–1940), made this wood engraving on paper in 1917. The engraving is 54 by 54 mm and part of the Tate Library. Arthur Eric Rowton Gill was an English sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker.

Gustav Doré -
Jesus Collapses Under the Cross
Gustave Doré (1832 – 1883) made this engraving in 1865 as part of his illustrated Bible.

The last one is the most amazing. There is money in everything. Like I collected soccer cards when I was young, you can collect 14 of these coins (in a gift box) as well. Gold plated, at $25 each.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Station 8: Jesus meets women of Jeruzalem

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
Luke 23:28

These words (Luke 23:38) are sometimes seen as a foreboding of the destruction of the temple in AD 70. So it could be taken to mean: 'Do not mourn now, save your tears for when things will be worse.'
 On his way to Golgotha Jesus spares a few moments for Mary Magdalene, the mysterious woman who was possibly more important to him than the gospels would have us believe.

Statue group Lourdes, France
In Lourdes, France, the Stations of the Cross are situated on the hill next to the Sanctuary, almost abutting the Basilicas and formerly continuous down to the Grotto. Up the hill there are 14 stations with bronze life size statues.

Roberto Ferri - eighth station of the cross

This extremely powerful picture as will see more in the next stations of Christ holding his hand towards the women. Wonderful use of colours, deep expression in the faces, remarkable painting.

Chris Woods - Jesus Meets The Women Of Jerusalem

Maybe not for everyone, but I for one, love this piece of art by Chris Woods (1970). He painted it in 1995, oil on panel, 16 x 12 inches.

Station 7: Jesus falls a second time

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Martin Schongauer - The Carrying of the Cross
The Bible does not mention Jesus tripping, collapsing or falling. It is not unlikely that these details were added to underline the severity of the relatively short trip, and serve to illustrate the burden of the sins of all mankind that Jesus had taken onto himself.

This is Martin Schongauer's (1447 – 1491) largest print, and also one of his most detailed. Other artists would have preferred painting on a large canvas, but Schongauer used a 43 cm (17 inch) wide copper plate.

The print shows how Jesus collapses under the cross, on his way to Golgotha. He is surrounded by a crowd of spectators and soldiers. The landscape in the background shows resemblance to the works of the Flemish Primitives. 

During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land. In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.
There are stations of the cross in so many churches, often made by local artists. This one is from the Church Notre-Dame-des-Champs in Normandie, France.

Hieronymus Bosch - Christ Carrying the Cross
This painting made by the now famous Jeroen Bosch was made circa 1480. Bosch made three painting of Christ Carrying the Cross, all very different. The other two are displayed in Ghent and Madrid, this version of Christ carrying the cross hangs in Vienna.

Monday, 21 March 2016

A to Z challenge Theme Reveal

Today a lot of people that will join the A-Z challenge in April this year, will reveal their theme. It's nonobligatory to have a theme, but I'm a theme kind of man. I like structure, in case you haven't noticed. Smile.

So, I already said I wanted to do my theme this year on Dantes Inferno or his complete Devine Comedy. Due to my illness I chose a different subject. It will take some time to do good research on this book, and I'm sure I will do it later on.

So I had to choose another subject for the A-Z challenge. And this year I will make my posts from A-Z about the life and works of Johannes Vermeer, the Dutch painter in the 17th century. I chose my nickname in honour of Johannes Vermeer and I'm sure I will pay tribute to mr. Han van Meegeren in this series as well.

I would like it very much if you would read with me, from A until Z about Johannes Vermeer.

Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
 John 14:9

Hans Memling - Saint Veronica

According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with pity when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica.
Hans Memling ( 1465 - 1494) painted this famous painting circa 1470-1475. He painted oil on wood and it's part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, USA.

El Greco -
St. Veronica with the Holy Shroud

The cloth was ever after known as the vera icon (true image) and, while significant for all artists, it may have been even more important to El Greco who trained as an icon painter. Regardless, in keeping with the tradition revealed here, El Greco depicts himself as a woman holding his/her "painting" of her/himself as a male Christ. Christ is the symbol of our true non-gendered humanity and, in looking inwards as esoteric Christians did, he saw himself as Christ. That is the meaning of every painter paints himself, an imaginative depiction of our divine essence because, in the Inner Tradition, God is inside us and everywhere else too.

Albrecht Durer -
The Sudarium of St Veronica

In 1510 Albrecht Durer cut from wood, this masterpiece, the Sudarium (in ancient Rome a cloth, usually of linen, for wiping the face)  of Saint Veronica. You would have to go to the British Museum in London to see it.

Station 5: Simon helps Jesus to carry his Cross

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:40

Duccio di Buoninsegna - Way to Calvary

The scene on the Way to Calvary, as Duccio represents it, has the specific purpose of acting as an intermediary between past and future events. On the one hand, the slender, erect figure of Christ, with his hands still tied, refers the onlooker to the various stages of the trial. On the other hand, the direction in which all the characters are moving (to the right, towards the panel with the Crucifixion) and the cross borne by Simon of Cyrene.

DUCCIO di Buoninsegna (born ca. 1255, Siena, died 1319, Siena), painted the Way to Calvary in 1308 on wood, 51 x 54 cm.

Simon of Cyrene's  act of carrying the cross for Jesus is the fifth or seventh of the Stations of the Cross. Some interpret the passage as indicating that Simon was chosen because he may have shown sympathy with Jesus. Others point out that the text itself says nothing, that he had no choice, and that there is no basis to consider the carrying of the cross an act of sympathetic generosity. The Passion of the Christ film portrays him as a Jew being forced by the Romans to carry the cross, who at first is unwilling, but as the journey to Mount Calvary continues, shows compassion to Jesus and helps him make it to the top.

This painting is made by Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) and the figures on the painting is so evidently Rubens style op painting.

Titian Tiziano
Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross

This wonderful piece of Italian art is by Titian Tiziano (1490-1576) and if you are at the Museo del Prado in Madrid someday, have a look at it.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Station 4: Jesus meets his mother

 "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?"
Lamentations 1:12

Adrian Wiszniewski, 'The Stations of the Cross: Jesus Meets his Mother' 

Adrian Wiszniewski (born 1958), made "The Stations of the Cross: Jesus Meets his Mother" in 1999. It is Linocut on Japanese tenjin paper.
The colour of this print is symbolic of Christ 's mother Mary. Artists have traditionally shown her wearing light blue robes.

Leonard Porter - Jesus meets his mother

Another contemporary artist, but this one is completely different. Leonard Porter (1963) painted the stations of the cross in commission oft the Church of Christ the King in New Vernon, NJ in 2011.

Roberto Ferri - Jesus meets his mother

Roberto Ferri (born 1978) is a modern painter that I admire very much. His paintings combine the old school technique with modern fine painting. This painting is truly a masterpiece. Light and dark are Rembrandish.

Station 3: Jesus falls for the first time

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:6

The procession to Calvary comes to a dead halt when Jesus collapses under the weight of the Cross (see picture above). Calvary is a different name for the Golgotha hill. To the right in the foreground a small mournful crowd has gathered around Mary and John the Evangelist.
The composition consisting of several small groups vaguely calls to mind the work of Jan van Eyck. The landscape is more Flemish than Palestinian - if it wasn't for the strange mountain the windmill stands on.

Some think Bruegel may have tried to compare Flanders and Palestine: Flanders was governed by Spain, and Palestine was occupied by the Romans. Both were aspiring for freedom.


Arent de Gelder: Gang naar Golgotha

Arent de Gelder was born and died in Dordrecht. He was one of Rembrandt’s last pupils while in Amsterdam, studying in his studio from 1661 to 1663. He was not only one of the most talented of Rembrandt’s pupils, but also one of his most devoted followers, for he was the only Dutch artist to paint in the tradition of Rembrandt's late style into the 18th century.

Following Rembrandts lead, De Gelder would paint such artworks as "The Baptism of Christ" and ".Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David" and "Gang naar Golgotha". Story telling and  emphasizing the human element to biblical characters is one of the distinguishing elements of this style, as opposed to the courtly and distant emotions and imagery of other artists, even in the Renaissance period.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Station 2: Jesus bears his Cross

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 9:23

Gustav Doré - Christ Leaving the Praetorium

After his conviction Jesus leaves the Praetorium to commence his journey to Golgotha, where he was to be crucified. The Praetorium was the building of the Roman governors over Jerusalem. Soldiers have a hard time controlling the bewildered crowd. A man holds the cross.
This Prétoire in Nantes is an almost identical copy of the painting in Strasbourg, which Doré made between 1867 and 1872. The Strasbourg canvas is even larger, measuring 6 x 9 meters.

Doré's reputation as a "preacher painter" was established in the last third of his career, after his famous illustrations for the Holy Bible in 1866. A short while later, he undertook a number of spectacular religious works.

This illustration comes from the book "Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry".

Christ Leaving the Praetorium and the Road to Calvary are represented in the manuscript on two facing pages. Pontius Pilate has delivered Christ to the mob to be crucified, and soldiers lead Him away. In the entrance of the Praetorium is a naked man in chains, who represents one of the thieves to be crucified with Christ and who reappears in the Road to Calvary. 

The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is the most famous and possibly the best surviving example of French Gothic manuscript illumination, showing the late International Gothic phase of the style. It is a book of hours: a collection of prayers to be said at the canonical hours. It was created between c. 1412 and 1416 for the extravagant royal bibliophile and patron John, Duke of Berry, by the Limbourg brothers.

Station 1 : Jesus is condemned to death

For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only son, that none that believe in him, should perish: but should have everlasting life.

Jan Lievens - Christ before Pilate

The Roman governor Pilate thinks that Jesus hasn't done much harm and wants to let him go. But the Jewish priests and the crowd make him punish Jesus anyway. By washing his hands, Pilate shows he feels no responsibility for the events. In the background to the right Jesus is taken away.

Jan Lievens was about 18 years old when he painted this panel. The rich details in Pilate's costly robe show he already was a very skillful artist.

Il Tintoretto - Christ before Pilate
Tintoretto, born Jacopo Comin, late September or early October, 1518 – May 31, 1594) was an Italian painter of the Renaissance school. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. His work is characterized by its muscular figures, dramatic gestures, and bold use of perspective. 

Rembrandt - Christ before Pontius Pilatus
 Rembrandt etched this with a dry needle in an oblong plate. He made this etch in 1655. It shows Pontius Pilatus and the crowd choosing between Barrabas and Jesus.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem which is believed to the be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary.

The object of the stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It has become one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in most Roman Catholic as well as in a number of Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist churches.

Commonly, a series of 14 images will be arranged in numbered order along a path and the faithful travel from image to image, in order, stopping at each "station" (Latin: statio) to say the selected prayers and reflections. This will be done individually or in a procession most commonly during Lent, especially on Good Friday, in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during his passion. (Wikipedia)

I have always been fascinated by the stations of the cross in Catholic Churches. Each church has one and each one is different. Next week I will post paintings of all 14 stations (2 per day) by more or less famous painters.

 I don't consider myself to be a religious person in the sense that I go to church on Sundays. I do consider myself to be a spiritual person that honours those beliefs that are different than mine. My history with the suffering and death of Jesus goes way back to my adolescence. Good Friday is a special day for me. The St. Matthew Passion or the St. Johns Passion by J.S. Bach is a special moment in each year.

The Heart Is a Foreign Country

Rangi McNeil wrote this poem and is about his Danish lover. His lover speaks almost perfect English and still, the differences in where and how you are raised means more than speaking another language. You need the language of love to overcome obstacles.

The heart is a foreign country

Ours is a partial language part pantomime,
part grimy guesswork: adulterated speculation
as to meaning & motivation.

Translated, heart suggests a familiar, universal
device but internal chemistries vary—
though components be the same & not uncommon.

The world owes us nothing. It promises less.
Call it: freedom. Free will. Or Wednesday.

Rangi McNeil

Thursday, 17 March 2016

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