Monday, August 1, 2011

19 IMAGES FROM THE 19th CENTURY: PART 14 - Sleeping Lazarus

Title: Sleeping Lazarus
Artist: Franciszek Zmurko
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: tbd.
Date: 1877
Location: Private Collection.


John 11:38-44 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Zmurko depicts Lazarus is in the tomb, but the light shining on his body suggests that the stone blocking its entrance has been partially pulled away. He is unconscious, perhaps still dead, but he also seems to be listening. Does he hear the voice of Jesus, calling his name? Zmurko specialized in paintings in which the subject seemed half-awake, half-asleep. The person in this painting, Lazarus, is not bothered by thoughts, but rests in an unconscious state. His muscles are shrunken in death but his face has a look of utter peace - and why not? He has led a good life and been a friend of Jesus - could he ask for more?

Franciszek Zmurko (July 1859 – October 1910) was a Polish painter. Zmurko began drawing lessons as a young boy in his hometown with the painter Franciszek Tepa. As an adolescent he moved to Krakow to study at the Academy of Fine Arts where he had lessons from Jan Matejko. In 1877 Zmurko moved to Vienna, Austria where he was accepted at the Vienna Academy, but left soon thereafter to study under Aleksander Wagner in Munich. Zmurko returned to Krakow in 1880 and then moved to Warsaw in 1882 where he remained until his death in 1910.

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