Title: Circumcision of Christ
Artist: Andrea Mantegna
Medium: Tempera on panel
Size: 82 x 42 cm
Date: c. 1460
Location: Galleria degli Uffizi,
Luke 2:21 records that eight days after his birth, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
Reflecting the piety of obedient Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary undertake to circumcise the child on the eighth day and give him the name the angel said he should possess, Jesus. In every action this couple is showing faithfulness. They are examples of faith. As devout Jewish parents, they follow the Mosaic law.
It is because Christ was circumcised that the Christian no longer needs circumcision. In the words of St. Ambrose: "Since the price has been paid for all after Christ suffered, there is no longer need for the blood of each individual to be shed by circumcision." In Mantegna's great picture of the Circumcision, the earliest monumental treatment of the subject and the most profound in conception, the solicitous gesture of the mother at right, averting her little boy's face to spare him a painful sight, may also have this theological import -- as if to say, "Not for you."
Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), one of the foremost north Italian painters of the 15th century. A master of perspective and foreshortening, he made important contributions to the compositional techniques of Renaissance painting. Born (probably at Isola di Carturo, between