The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves | Art for Proper 29

Luke 23:33 “When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.”

The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves
1522-24
Red chalk, 394 x 281 mm
British Museum, London
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Commentary by Hovak Najarian

The Crucifixion of Christ and the Two Thieves, c. 1522-24, Red Chalk, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564

When early Christian artists began creating visual images of their faith they were faced with questions such as what did Jesus look like? Could or should God be portrayed – if so, how? How would the crucifixion be depicted and what would be the shape of the cross?

Although there were fervent associations with the crucifixion, it was not depicted in art for several hundred years after the event. Then, when it began to be shown, artists did not attempt to give a realistic interpretation. Instead, the crucifixion was used as a symbol. It was in the sixth century that scenes familiar to us today began to appear; in the years that followed, details of the event were reconstructed as artists followed biblical descriptions and used their imaginations. Jesus and the thieves were shown on crosses; Jesus in the center and the thieves on each side. At first, only a few people were present but as compositions became more complex, figures were added; among them were disciples, the three Marys, bystanders, and soldiers (one with a spear and others throwing dice for Christ’s cloak). Some artists placed angels above the cross of Jesus and often a skull was placed at the foot of his cross to indicate this was “the place of the skull.”

Michelangelo’s chalk drawing, “Crucifixion with Two Thieves,” was sketched possibly as a study for a painting and was not intended to be a complete or permanent work. Because chalk does not have within it a binding agent such as egg yolk or linseed oil, it can be rubbed off a surface easily. Some details in this drawing are not clear and almost lost.

Michelangelo depicts the crucifixion as it is taking place. A man on the top of the central cross is making an adjustment to Jesus’ arm while a figure is on a ladder at his feet. Another person is on a ladder at the feet of the thief on the right and an additional ladder is being brought to the site; it is presumed this is to reach the feet of the thief on the left whose unsupported legs are dangling loosely. [It also may be interpreted that this ladder is being removed from the scene] Under the cross on the left are two horses (their images are very light and barely distinguishable). Below the central cross, Mary has fainted and is being assisted. Others are consumed with grief.

The familiar Latin cross has a horizontal section approximately one third down from the top but many other forms have been made. In this drawing the thieves are attached to crossbeams at the very top of the vertical posts, whereas the cross on which Christ is placed is “Y” shaped. This was not a Michelangelo innovation; the “Y” shaped cross was among the earliest depicted in scenes of the crucifixion.

Hovak Najarian © 2013

The Brazen Serpent | Art for Lent 4 B

John 3:14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

Jesus' cleansing of the Temple
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
The Brazen Serpent
1511
Fresco, 585 x 985 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican
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Click here for a previous post of March 18, 2012 including a variety of other informative links.

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock / Ezekiel| Art for A Proper 21

Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses Drawing Water from the Rock
ASSERETO, Gioachino
Moses Drawing Water from the Rock
Oil on canvas, 254 x 300 cm
Museo del Prado, MadridClick image for more information.
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Ezekiel 18:1
The word of the LORD came to me:

Ezekiel
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
Ezekiel
1510
Fresco, 355 x 380 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican
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Click for artist bio.

Rachel and Leah (Track 1 ) & Solomon (Track 2 )| Art for A Proper 12

RCL Track 1
Genesis 29:25 When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”

Rachel and Leah
MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
Rachel and Leah
1545
Marble
San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
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Click for artist bio.

RCL Track 2
1 Kings 3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night

Solomon by Duccio
Solomon 1308-11 Tempera on wood, 42,5 x 16 cm Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena

Additional commentary by Hovak Najarian 8/15/2012