Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem & The Entombment | Palm/Passion Sunday B

Mark 11:9/John 12:13 “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem
Small Passion: 6.
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click image for more information.

Mark 15:47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

The Christ before Pilate
The Entombment
Small Passion: 28.
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click image for more information.

These are but two pages (6 & 28) from the woodcut series The Small Passion (1511) by Albrecht DÜRER
Click to open Web Gallery of Art presentation of the entire Small Passion series of woodcuts.

B Easter 2, Art for April 15, 2012

DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Small Small Passion: 33. The Incredulity of St Thomas
1511
Woodcut
British Museum, London
Click to open Web Gallery of Art index page. Click selection 33 for large view.

Woodcut series: The Small Passion (1511)
by Albrecht DÜRERClick to open Web Gallery of Art presentation of the entire Small Passion series of woodcuts.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.
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The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Woodcut, (1508-1510), Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
Related post “Easter, April 8,2012′

After Jesus’ resurrection he made himself known to Mary Magdalene and then to two disciples while they dined in Emmaus. He also talked to disciples at a time when Thomas was not with them. When the disciples told Thomas that Christ had risen, he was skeptical. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” Jesus was again with the disciples eight days later. Thomas was with them and was invited by Jesus to touch his wounds. When he did, his doubts were erased and he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Durer treats this subject like a relief sculpture and gives the composition visual balance through bilateral symmetry. Each side is almost a mirror image of the other with Christ in the center flanked by two apostles. Thomas, on the left, leans slightly and receives our attention as we follow his arm to where he is touching Christ’s side. The three figures in the foreground close off pictorial depth while all other figures are relegated to the background; they are neither participating actively nor do they have a clear view of Christ being touched. Instead, Durer depicts this scene as though it is being presented to an audience – the audience being you, the viewer – as it would be if you were standing directly in front of Christ and Thomas.

In The Incredulity of Thomas, the influence of Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture is evident. During Durer’s extended visit to Italy shortly before working on the Small Passion, he immersed himself in the art of the Italian masters who, in turn, learned from the art of the ancient Greeks and Romans. In this woodcut, the garments worn by the apostles are flowing and the folds hang naturally like the garments found in Roman sculpture or in a painting such as Raphael’s The School of Athens. Christ, on the other hand, is almost garmentless as he stands in the center in a contrapposto (Italian for counterpose) position. This pose is one in which a standing person seems relaxed with the body’s weight on one leg. It was used widely by the Greeks and Romans and the pose was very popular again during the Renaissance as well as during the Mannerist period that followed. In form, the unclothed Jesus is standing very much in the manner of a Greek statue such as a Hermes or Apollo.

As Thomas is touching the wounded side, Christ guides Thomas’ arm with his right hand while his left arm is pointing heavenward. The upward pointing fingers are in the well known symbolic position found throughout Christian art. His thumb and first two fingers are extended and the other two fingers are closed. The extended fingers represent the trinity and the closed fingers symbolize the two-fold nature of Christ; God and man. Christ’s halo is depicted the same as in Durer’s Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem; it is again shown as an intense light. It is not contained as a disc or circle but instead radiates out to fill much of the upper quarter of the composition.

Although the Incredulity of Thomas is a small woodcut, Durer’s figures carry visual weight and a sense of solidity. Through the eyes of a German artist with an understanding of Italian Renaissance painting and sculpture, Albrecht Durer gives us his interpretation of how this event occurred.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, woodcut (1508-1510), Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)

Commentary by Hovak Najarian
Related post ‘Palm Sunday, April 1,2012’

When Albrecht Durer was a young boy in Nuremberg,Germany his skills were apparent and his father, a goldsmith, took him into his workshop for training.  As a youth, Durer continued his training by apprenticing with a master engraver and then followed by traveling to other European countries.  His first visit to Italy was in the mid 1490s but nine years later he returned in order to immerse himself in creative work.  In Italy, a rebirth had been underway throughout the fifteenth century and during an extended stay in Venice (from 1505-1507) he made a thorough study of not only art but also the intellectual ideas that led to the Renaissance.  In his life, Durer enjoyed a well deserved reputation as a painter but it was through the unrivaled quality of his woodcuts and metal engravings that his reputation as a Northern Renaissance artist spread throughout Europe.

Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem is from a series of woodcuts known as the Small Passion (the prints are quite small in scale).  Durer started the thirty-seven prints not long after his return to Germany from Italy; he completed them in 1510 and then published them as a book in 1511.  The dates of some of the plates (wood blocks) indicate Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem was the first of this series.  In his original concept, the Passion was to be the only subject of the prints but after completing them, he decided to add six more prints beginning with Adam and Eve. This changed the emphasis from the Passion to mankind’s woes and our salvation through Christ.

In Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus is the central figure and is the focus of attention as He rides toward the gate of the city.  The crowd that surrounds him is in a subordinate role; they are the supporting cast to the drama.  As Christ is approaching the gate, an old man is placing a cloak on the ground before him.  Another man is holding a palm frond.  In ancient Rome, a frond symbolized victory and in Christian art it came to be associated with martyrs and a triumph over death.  The palm tree in the background symbolizes the promise of immortality (because its fronds are always green).

Halos in Christian art are intended to suggest radiant light around the heads of saints and heavenly beings, but they have not always been depicted in the familiar circular form.  Sometimes God the Father is given a triangular halo signifying the trinity.  A living person, such as a donor, may be shown with a square halo to indicate they are not one of the saints.  Christ is the only one given a cruciform halo in reference to his death on the cross.   In “Christ’s Entry,” Durer does not use a circular halo but instead shows Christ’s head surrounded by an intense light with rays extending out beyond the glow.

Note:

Making prints from a raised surface (relief print) is a very ancient graphic process in which an image is drawn on a flat block of wood and then everything but the image itself is carved to be slightly below the surface.  When ink is rolled across a prepared block the carved areas, being below the surface, receive no ink; these areas will remain white on the print.  When a piece of paper is placed over the block and it is run through a press or pressed by hand, the ink is pulled from the surface of the block, transferring a reversed image onto the paper.

Many prints can be made from a prepared plate.  Often an artist plans for a limited edition and destroys the plate after a series has been printed.  Copyright laws were not in place during Durer’s time and many copies of his woodcuts were made.  Some of his plates still exist.

Albrecht Durer signed his plates with a stylized letter “A” and a “D” in the lower space of the “A.”  In “Christ’s Entry,” it is likely you noticed the “D” is reversed.  In most instances, Durer reversed his initials on the plate itself in order that it could be read correctly after the print was pulled.  It may have been one of his assistants who did the carving in Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian