The Taking of Christ
A good artist needs only a solitary moment in time to illustrate a story authors spend pages telling. A freeze frame, an instant: all that is necessary for a painting to reveal the intricacies of a subject’s thoughts and emotions and the general themes that surround them. An artist must choose a significant moment and portray it in a way that captures its essence, while promoting the contemplation and discussion of its viewers. Few moments have more significance in Christian theology than the one depicted in a 17th century Flemish artist’s painting, The Taking of Christ. This chaotic work of art illustrates the instant after Judas exposes Jesus Christ with a kiss, enabling the Pharisee soldiers to apprehend him. This act of betrayal leads to the eventual crucifixion of Christ – a crucial moment in Christian theology that simultaneously ends the life of Jesus Christ the savior, and redeems mankind for its sins.
Although Flemish in origin; The Taking of Christ embodies many artistic characteristics of the Italian Renaissance. The painting is very dark overall but is sprinkled pockets of intense lighting. Chiaroscuro is a technique that became popular amongst Italian Renaissance painters and is characterized by the bold contrast between light and dark. The darkness also adds to the claustrophobic and chaotic mood of the painting, as do the tangled limbs of the subjects. The crossing of body parts reveals depth and dimension in the painting – also indicative of the Renaissance style. Each face in the composition is well lit, allowing the artist to use great detail when illustrating facial expressions. Expressing individual personality is instrumental to the renaissance style and allows the viewer to interpret the mental and emotional state of the subjects. In this particular scene, the eye is drawn immediately to the faces of Jesus and Judas.
Looking at the two faces objectively, it is difficult to determine what exactly is going on in...
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