The Taking of Christ

The Taking of Christ

It is evening on Holy Thursday. Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ offers a powerful and beautiful meditation on the subject. The following commentary is from the National Gallery of Art website: The painting represents Jesus Christ being captured in the Garden of Gethsemane by soldiers who were led to him by one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. Tempted by the promise of financial reward, Judas agreed to identify his master by kissing him: “The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him and lead him away safely” (Mark 14:44). Caravaggio focuses on the culminating moment of Judas’ betrayal, as he grasps Christ and delivers his treacherous kiss. Christ accepts his fate with humility, his hands clasped in a gesture of faith, while the soldiers move in to capture him. At the center of the composition, the first soldier’s cold shining armor contrasts with the vulnerability of the defenseless Christ. He offers no resistance, but gives in to his persecutors’ harsh and unjust treatment, his anguish conveyed by his furrowed brow and down-turned eyes. The image would have encouraged viewers to follow Christ’s example, to place forgiveness before revenge, and to engage in spiritual rather than physical combat. Caravaggio presents the scene as if it were a frozen moment, to which the over-crowded composition and violent gestures contribute dramatic impact. This is further intensified by the strong lighting, which focuses attention on the expressions of the foreground figures. The contrasting faces of Jesus and Judas, both placed against the blood-red drapery in the background, imbue the painting with great psychological depth. Likewise, the terrorized expression and gesture of the...
Michelangelo On Painting

Michelangelo On Painting

Thinking about Michelangelo today. Thanks to Dominus Venustas blog for this post. Michelangelo On Painting Good painting is noble and devout in itself, for among the wise nothing tends more to elevate the soul or to raise it toward devotion than the difficulty of that perfection which approaches God and becomes one with Him. Good painting is but a copy of this perfection, a shadow of his pencil, a music, a melody, and only a very keen intelligence can feel the difficulty of it. That is why it is so rare and why so few people can attain to it or know how to produce it. Painting is the music of God, the inner reflection of his luminous perfection. …the words of an artistic genius whose work is often described as divinely inspired. Eloquent and deeply felt. via Dominus Venustas | Michelangelo On Painting Good painting is...
Sketchbook 3/22/13

Sketchbook 3/22/13

Today’s sketch (charcoal, ink, conte crayon and gouache) is a horizontal study of flowers without vases. I’ve also included the solid shapes of plums, pears and a shell. I often exclude man-made items such as vases, bowls, etc. or deemphasize them, keeping the focus on the natural...
Model Feast

Model Feast

As I plotted some new paintings last week, these are some of the fresh and beautiful things I had to choose from for my composition studies. Added bonus - some of these still life “models” were then served for...
Art, Beauty and Florence Nightingale

Art, Beauty and Florence Nightingale

Writing in 1898 about the effect of beauty, both in nature and art, on the well-being and healing of patients, Florence Nightingale observed:  Colour and form means of recovery. The effect in sickness of beautiful objects, of variety of objects, and especially of brilliancy of colour is hardly at all appreciated. Such cravings are usually called the “fancies” of patients. And often doubtless patients have “fancies,” as e.g. when they desire two contradictions. But much more often, their (so called) “fancies” are the most valuable indications of what is necessary for their recovery. And it would be well if nurses would watch these (so called) “fancies” closely. I have seen, in fevers (and felt, when I was a fever patient myself), the most acute suffering produced from the patient (in a hut) not being able to see out of window, and the knots in the wood being the only view. I shall never forget the rapture of fever patients over a bunch of bright-coloured flowers. I remember (in my own case) a nosegay of wild flowers being sent me, and from that moment recovery becoming more rapid. This is no fancy.  People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too. Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by colour, and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect. Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the objects presented to patients are actual means of recovery. But it must be _slow_ variety, e.g., if you shew...