Saturday, March 27, 2010


Title: Resurrection

Artist: Jan Styka

Medium: Oil on cardboard

Size: 41 x 32.5 cm

Date: 1901

Location: Private collection

The Gospel of Mark has no actual account of the resurrection. Events progress from the entombment to the morning when the Sabbath has past. An argument can be made that the resurrection, while a real event according to the unanimous testimony of the canonical Gospels, is not historical in the sense that ordinary events are. It occurs at a point where history ends and God’s end-time kingdom begins. It is not in itself an observable occurrence. No one saw God raise Jesus from the dead. Nor can it be verified. In a sense, it is an inference from the disciple’s Easter visions, and the empty tomb.

Yet the mind can not help but wonder what kind of a sight it would have been to witness. According to Matthew 27:66, the chief priests and the Pharisees, with the sanction of Pilate, went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting a guard. But even here there is no clear indication if anything was witnessed, or if everything happened behind sealed doors. In keeping with tradition, however, Styka’s painting depicts a transcendent, glorious Christ, at the moment of his freedom from the tomb, the moment when God’s promise of eternal life becomes fulfilled.

Jan Styka (April 8, 1858 - April 11, 1925) was an ethnic Polish-born painter noted for producing large historical and Christian panoramas. Styka, son of an officer in Austria-Hungary, attended school in his native Lemberg and then studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. Afterward he took up residence in Italy for a short time before moving to France where the great art movements at Montmartre and Montparnasse were taking shape, and where he would spend a large part of his life.

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