Monday, July 27, 2009

The Risen Christ

Title: The Risen Christ
Artist: Bramantino
Medium: Oil on panel
Size: 109 x 75 cm
Date: c. 1490
Location: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

None of the gospels record what transpired at the moment Jesus was resurrected, only the aftermath early on Sunday when the stone had already been rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, and the body was nowhere to be found (e.g. Luke 24).

Bramantino's Risen Christ has all the power required to depict this subject without having to resort to the depiction of violence or blood. Here Christ appears full face, very clearly showing the spectator the wounds of his passion which are realistically depicted on his hands, and the wound in his side which he covers with his robe. The representation of the wounds allows us to identify the image as that of the Risen Christ and to suggest that the dark background on the right could be the tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane. This Risen Christ is very far removed from representations of the subject which show Christ triumphant over Death. The Saviour is here shown with reddened eyes and an expression of intense pain and sadness. The body, almost a ghostly pallor, contrasts with the strong reddish tones used on the face and hair, and seems to give out a light which has no obvious source, but comes from within.

Bartolomeo Suardi, called Bramantino (c. 1456 – c. 1530), was a Milanese painter and architect, and a follower of Bramante, from whom he takes his nickname. His style as a painter is complex and eclectic, drawing on Piero della Francesca and Leonardo as well as Bramante. In 1525 Bramantino was appointed architect to the court by Duke Francis (II) Sforza, and his aid as an engineer in the defence of Milan brought him a multitude of rewards.

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