Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Man Bearing a Pitcher

Title: The Man Bearing a Pitcher

Artist: James Tissot

Medium: Watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper

Size: 24.4 x 16.4 cm

Date: c. 1890

Location: Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

Mark 14:12-16 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

Many commentators point out that water jars were nearly always carried by women; a man carrying one would therefore be a noticeable sign. Households that could afford slaves always had them carry the water. Further, anyone with a two-story house, the second story containing a large upper room, would be considered well-to-do. These details certainly reinforce the fact that Jesus had followers who were among the wealthy class in Jerusalem, not all of his support coming from the disenfranchised peasantry.

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (October 15, 1836 – August 8, 1902) was a French painter. Sometime in the 1870s Tissot met an Irish divorcee, Mrs. Kathleen Newton, who became his companion and the model for many of his paintings. Mrs. Newton moved into Tissot's household in 1876 and lived with him until her suicide in the late stages of consumption in 1882 at the age of 28. While visiting the church of Saint-Sulpice, Tissot experienced a religious vision, after which he embarked on his ambitious project to illustrate the New Testament. He strove for historical authenticity, making expeditions to the Middle East to record the landscape, architecture, costumes, and customs of the Holy Land, convinced that the region had remained unchanged since Jesus’ time.

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