Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Betrayal of Christ

Title: The Betrayal of Christ

Artist: Jacopo Bassano

Medium: Pastel over charcoal on faded blue paper

Size: 41 x 55 cm

Date: 1568

Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris

Mark 14:43-49 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

"Am I leading a rebellion," said Jesus, "that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled."

This drawing covers the largest format possible at the time for rag-pulp paper. The colored highlights of the pastel crayons are perfectly preserved and contrast the quickly sketched figures of the traitor Judas identifying Jesus to the armed band with a kiss.

As local collaborators, the temple authorities were permitted by the Romans to have a small paramilitary force. That these men, sent by the chief priests and teachers of the law, come prepared for armed resistance demonstrates they had been expecting a messianic revolutionary.

Jacopo Bassano (also known as Jacopo da Ponte, c. 1510 - 13 February 1592) was an Italian painter active in the Republic of Venice. He was born and died in Bassano del Grappa near Venice, from which he adopted the name. His father Francesco Bassano the Elder was a "peasant artist" and Jacopo adopted some of his style as he created religious paintings with novel features including animals, farmhouses, and landscapes. From around 1560 his work became vested with a more exaggerated search for novel effects of light, taking on something of the iridescent coloring reminiscent of Tintoretto.

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