Saturday, March 20, 2010

Descent from the Cross

Title: Descent from the Cross

Artist: Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 424 x 312 cm

Date: 1697

Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Mark 15:46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body,

The Descent from the Cross, or Deposition of Christ, is the scene, as depicted in art, from the Gospels' accounts of Christ being taken down from the cross after his crucifixion. In Byzantine art the topic became popular in the 9th century, and in the West from the 10th century. It was forbidden for Jews to touch a dead body, and even though the men made themselves unclean by burying Jesus, it’s unlikely that any of the women would have actually had any direct contact. In fact, Luke 23:54-56 indicates that they planned to do their part in the burial after the Sabbath, on Sunday morning. Taking Jesus off the cross and placing Him in the tomb was men’s work.

This bold and vigorous painting, with its magnificent harmony of warm colors, foreshadows the most beautiful of the nineteenth-century Romantic Paintings. He details the bodies and the faces with precision. The arms, legs and torsos knotted around the slanting cross convey a power which rivals that of the baroque masters. Executed for the church of the Capuchins in the Place Louis-le-grande, Paris, it was donated to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1756. During the French Revolution, it was acquired by the Louvre, as were all the other paintings which had belonged to the Académie.

Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1644 – 5 April 1717) was a French painter, especially well know for his religious subjects. "Theatrical" is a term often used to describe the work of Jouvenet, an artist who was influenced by Poussin and took Charles Le Brun as his model. However, while he maintains the "grand goût" of his masters, he breaks with reflective painting, investigating broad dramatic effects, warm tones, and a certain realism. Due to Jouvenet's work, French painting in the late 17th century attained a pictorial expression which could rival the great foreign baroque masters. He was born into an artistic family in Rouen. His first training in art was from his father, Laurent Jouvenet; a generation earlier, his grandfather, Noel Jouvenet, may have taught Nicolas Poussin.

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