Hey everyone! Because yesterday was Easter Sunday, and since we are all stuck at home, I thought I could talk about some paintings that reflect on the joy of Christ’s Resurrection! To begin with, the Catholic and many Christians believe that three days after Christ died, he resurrected. In essence, when people had died, before Christ had died for our sins, people had gone to Hell. However, when Christ went down to Hell, he came back three days later and opened the gates of Heaven to all.
One example of a painting is by Paolo Veronese called The Resurrection of Christ created in 1570.
This is a beautiful painting created by an Italian Renaissance artist. This painting shows Christ in the middle of his Resurrection looking up and going into Heaven. The guards and people around the tomb are perplexed, confused, and shocked that Christ is out of his tomb, and he’s going up towards Heaven.
Veronese includes a classical Renaissance background, blue sky with clouds, with some reference to architectural setting through the ruins of the structure in the left. This ruin could be a reference to when Christ said the temple would be ruined in Jerusalem; Christ then said he would raise it up again in three days. For instance, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Therefore, the ruins of the temple could be near him in this painting, and Christ is what is being raised up. This means that Christ has created a new temple through his sacrifice for us.
Christ, here, is wrapped in a pink clothe. He is staring at Heaven as he is going up towards there. His body is illuminated by a gold oval shape that suggests his divinity. Christ’s hands still bare the wounds from his crucifixion, and his hands are gestured in the same way that they were on the cross. This can be a reference to his crucifixion, but it could also be a way to suggest his happiness to be going to God (almost as though he is ready to hug God). Lastly, in the right background, one can see the women coming to the tomb and looking puzzled as they search for Christ.
Another painting example is Nicolas Bertin’s The Resurrection of Christ. The date is unknown, but it was probably around the 17th century and early 18th century.
This next painting is one of my favorite ones; it’s absolutely beautiful, and the lighting is amazing. Unlike Veronese’s painting, this artwork is showing both the divine and earthly. Bertin creates the Earthly on the bottom half of the painting, where the guards are shocked, disoriented, and amazed on the floor at Christ’s Resurrection. The upper half of the painting suggests a Heavenly setting through the baby angels (also known as putti) who are surrounding Christ and the cloud that Christ is being lifted by.
Here, Bertin shows Christ covered by a white piece of clothe. His body has the wounds that he received from hisi Crucifixion, the nails in his hands and feet and the cut under his rib. Christ’s entire being is illuminating the painting; he is literally the light of this painting, which makes me think of when John wrote, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Lastly, Christ’s gesture here, one hand up and one hand down, seems as though Christ is showing both God and people on Earth that his sacrifice for us is complete.
The third example is Fra Angelico’s fresco of Christ and the Women at the Tomb created between 1440 and 1442.
I was extremely fortune to have been able to seen this, along with a handful of other frescoes that Fra Angelico completed, in San Marco. This was in a monastery for Dominican friars, and in the 1440s, Fra Angelico was commissioned by Cosimo de Medici to create frescoes in this monastery. This fresco is in a small room that a monk would have lived in. Each room in the monastery has a fresco on the wall that depicts a scene from Christ’s life in the Bible.
Here we see Christ going into Heaven. He is surrounded by a oval shaped orb of light that suggests his divinity. Christ is wearing a halo around this head, and in his left hand, he is holding onto a flag with a cross on it. In his right hand, Christ is most likely holding onto a palm, which can signify two things: kingship and victory. The palm can reference back to Palm Sunday, when Christ was greeted as the Messiah. It could also signify his victory over death and our victory in being able to have salvation.
On the bottom half of the painting, we see the tomb open and the women are confused as to where Christ is. There is an angel sitting on the tomb who is pointing down at the tomb and up to Christ, showing them that he is above them in Heaven. Most of the women, however, seem very focused on the tomb.
Feature Image from Wikipedia