Thursday, March 18, 2010

Joseph of Arimathea Seeks Pilate

Title: Joseph of Arimathea Seeks Pilate to Beg Permission to Remove the Body of Jesus

Artist: James Tissot

Medium: Watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper

Size: 22.7 x 30.8 cm

Date: c. 1890

Location: Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York.

Mark 15:42-45 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

That the Jewish Council included pious members like Joseph, and not just the sort who appeared at Jesus’ trial, fits the known diversity within the aristocracy of the period. That Pilate granted his request to remove the body is also remarkable; it was exceedingly rare that victims of crucifixion were given a proper burial, but it may have been the unorthodox request of a pious Council member like Joseph that persuaded Pilate.

James Jacques Joseph Tissot (October 15, 1836 – August 8, 1902) was a French painter who enjoyed a successful artistic career in Paris and London painting society. While visiting the church of Saint-Sulpice, he experienced a religious vision and began work on drawings of the life of Christ, which debuted In Paris in 1896. Tissot created his precisely rendered watercolors of the life of Christ with the same meticulous attention to detail that he had applied to painting society. He strove for historical authenticity, making expeditions to the Middle East to record the landscape, architecture, costumes, and customs of the Holy Land.

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