Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Crucifixion of Christ

Title: The Crucifixion of Christ
Artist: Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 341 x 371 cm
Date: 1568
Location: San Cassiano, Venice.

John 19:19-22 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Common practice was to have those sentenced to crucifixion carry signs indicating the cause of their punishment, or to have others carry the signs for the accused. The title Pilate has written continues to goad the Jewish leaders, and they insist that he change it. But for the first time he stands firm against them, and John seems to suggest this title over the cross was itself a form of witness to Israel and the world. Pilate unwittingly made such a proclamation, of course, as was the case with his having chosen the title itself. Such features fit with John's theme that all is working out according to God's will. So here we have another irony: the man who does not have a clue about the truth proclaims, unwittingly, the truth about Jesus. And we have the tragedy of the representatives of the one true God, who should have recognized the truth, continuing to reject it.

Tintoretto (September, 1518 – May, 1594) also known as Jacopo Robusti or Jacopo Comin, was an Italian painter and a notable exponent of the Venetian Renaissance school. His father, Giovanni, was a dyer, or tintore; hence the son got the nickname of Tintoretto, little dyer, or dyer's boy. For his phenomenal energy in painting he was termed Il Furioso. Indeed, fellow Venetian master Sebastiano del Piombo remarked that Tintoretto could paint in two days as much as himself in two years. Like Titian, Tintoretto kept a huge workshop, his chief assistants being his sons Domenico and Marco, and his daughter Marietta. Domenico became his foreman and is said to have painted many portraits, although none can be attributed to him with certainty.

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