Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nailed to the Cross

Title: Untitled

Artist: William Hole

Medium: Printed book illustration

Size: 29 x 24 cm

Date: c.1905

Location: From “The Life of Jesus of Nazareth Portrayed in Colours.” London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.

Mark 15:23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Pious women of Jerusalem normally prepared a solution like wine mixed with myrrh and offered it to those being executed to dull their pain, as Myrrh is said to have narcotic effects (Proverbs 31:6). Jesus, however, chose to face the full agony of the crucifixion.

This illustration, one of eighty published in 1905 as “The Life of Jesus of Nazareth Portrayed in Colours”, is an attempt to portray only what was visible to the outward eye of a contemporary observer. In the background chaos swirls, with debating elders, the approaching mob, and legionnaires brandishing whips for crowd control. In the foreground the work of Jesus’ crucifixion begins. To the right of the image, flanked by two disdainful elders, a soldier calmly pours into a bowl the wine and myrrh that Jesus would refuse.

William Hole (b. Salisbury 1846 – d. 1917) relocated to Edinburgh as a youth where he received his education at the Edinburgh Academy. While traveling through Italy he befriended some artists in Rome who convinced him that he should pursue a career in art. On returning to Edinburgh, he began formal training in both painting and etching at the Royal Scottish Academy. In the early 1900's Hole actually travelled to the Holy land and painted his pictures on the spot. Even though some of the architectural features were probably not around 2,000 years earlier, these pictures still retain an air of authenticity.

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