Easter is an extraordinary time of year. For Pagan people, it represented the passing of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Nowadays, it is a day to be with our families and indulges in too much chocolate. Most importantly of all, though, it is the day to celebrate the life and message of Jesus Christ.
Easter is the day that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead. It is predominantly a Christian tradition and also represents the end of lent. Lent is a personal challenge of sorts, where the individual voluntarily gives up something for forty days.
Throughout the history of art, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has always been an iconic topic of depiction. It holds many layers and meanings within its symbols and acts as a powerfully uplifting message for both the individual and larger society to learn from.
The Raising of the Cross by Rembrandt
Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn is recognized as one of the most talented painters of all time and one of the very best when depicting scenes from the bible. No other painter has been able to capture the emotional human component of the bible, quite like Rembrandt.
He painted several paintings of the crucifixion during his career, and like many of the stories within the bible, it seems to hold some more profound personal significance to Rembrandt. The quote “that every artist paints themselves” is aptly fitting for Rembrandt as he would include himself in many of his works, including The Raising of the Cross.
The painting itself portrays the dark moment when Jesus is being nailed and raised onto the cross. Rembrandt is seen standing alongside Christ within the macabre scene, watching the scene unfold. Critics have stated that this represents Rembrandt’s empathy towards Christ while also acknowledging his complicit wickedness.
Christ Crucified by Diego Velázquez
Diego Velázquez’s stark rendition of the crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most essential and recognizable paintings on the topic. The scene generally comes to mind when one thinks of the crucifixion.
It shows the suffering Jesus nailed to the cross and is amplified by an empty dark background. His head is slumped to his chest, and his wounds pour with blood, yet his halo still shines, and he remains unbroken.
Velázquez’s painting has also been acknowledged as a nude study like many other works. In the painting “Christ on the Cross”, the body of Jesus remains dignified and pure, despite his plight. In this historical crucifixion painting, he stands naked without any background narrative to show us the nakedness of our sins.
Christ Carrying the Cross by Titian
Another powerful image associated with the crucifixion scene is the story of Christ carrying his cross on the way to his death. This scene is littered with inspirational and tragic symbology and is beautifully captured by Venetian artist Titian.
The pain depicted in Jesus’s eyes practically jumps off the canvas as he is being unwilfully led forward by his executioner. The noose around his next and the crown of thorns on his head showcase the injustice and humiliation Christ was forced to endure.
The tale of the carrying of the cross is filled with many important moments than eventually culminate with Christ’s crucifixion. It is believed that these moments represent things in our own lives that we must overcome ourselves and are known in Christianity as the stations of the cross.
Crucifixion by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso’s colorful adaptation of the crucifixion is a modern and abstract twist on the story. It fits in perfectly with the life and death paradox that Picasso was so interested in and the raw human emotion often associated with many of his other works.
Like Rembrandt, to Picasso, the crucifixion held a deep personal significance. It gave him both an opportunity to explore further and express the themes of human suffering and a chance to depict the most iconic symbol in western culture in his unique way.
The Christ on the cross painting itself is a beautiful mishmash of colorful emotions. Every corner of the piece is colored in bright, vibrant tones except the Christ figure in the center, which remains completely colorless. This can be seen as a symbol of a religion becoming colorless and meaningless in today’s modern age.
Christ on the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens
Out of all the crucifixion paintings, Rubens’ interpretations are one of the most encompassing. Instead of depicting Jesus as a lone tragic figure, Ruben highlights the entire cast of characters present at the crucifixion scene.
Rubens created several versions of the crucifixion of Christ, and each holds a different theme of primary focus. For example, one focuses on the elevation of the cross. At the same time, another portrays the scene of Jesus being taken down from the cross after his death. And another on his resurrection!
However, Christ on the Cross is arguably his most epic and emotional depiction in the series. The hard-hitting imagery within really invokes an appreciation of Jesus’s sacrifice in both his onlooking followers and ourselves. His deeds are an excellent blueprint for improving our own.
Whatever your opinion of religion may be, it cannot be denied that the message of Jesus is beneficial to the life of anyone willing to hear it. Seeing as it is Easter, now might be an excellent chance to take some time to learn more about Jesus and his timeless message of peace and love.