Saturday, February 20, 2010

Conscience, Judas

Title: Conscience, Judas

Artist: Nikolai Ge

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 149 x 210 cm

Date: 1891

Location: tbd.

Mark 14:26-31 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. "You will all fall away," Jesus told them, "for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not."

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times."

But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same.

Ge’s painting, ‘Conscience, Judas’, suggests that Judas’s betrayal of Jesus led him into a state of profound isolation. As Jesus was telling his disciples how he knew they would all fall away, Judas had already done so. And even as Peter denies he would ever disown Jesus, another has already done so. We may not fully know by what reasoning Judas would betray Christ, but the bribe of thirty pieces of silver was enough for Judas to arrange for a private place for the arrest of Jesus.

Nikolai Nikolayevich Ge (27 February 1831 – 13 June 1894), was a Russian realist painter famous for his works on historical and religious motifs. He was born into a noble family of French origin, but his parents died when he was young and he was raised by his nurse, a serf who taught him compassion and empathy for the humiliated. His late paintings on New Testament subjects were praised by liberal critics like Vladimir Stasov, criticized by conservatives as illustrating Ernest Renan (the French philosopher best known for his influential works on early Christianity) rather than the New Testament, and forbidden by the authorities as blasphemous.

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