Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Disciples Peter and John

Title: The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection

Artist: Eugène Burnand

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 82 x 134 cm

Date: 1898

Location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris

This painting depicts events as described in John 20:3. Early Sunday morning after hearing from Mary Magdalene that the body of Jesus was gone, “Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first.”

Here, Burnand has portrayed John, author of the gospel, as Jesus’ unnamed favorite disciple. Along with Simon Peter, the two concerned disciples rush toward the now empty tomb. The early morning light provides a literal glimmer of hope as it shines warmly across their emotional faces.

Eugène Burnand (30 August 1850 – 4 February 1921) was a Swiss painter, born in the municipality of Moudon. The human figure was at the heart of his aesthetic and religious concerns. Though his art is governed by an absolute naturalism, it is not simply a copy of reality but instead has certain aspects selected and heightened. Faces are of particular fascination for the artist. For Burnand, the character of a man could literally be read in his physical features, a system of beliefs acquired from the works of Johan Lavater, a noted Swiss physiognomist.

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