Caravaggio, Vincent Van Gogh, And The Deposition Of Christ

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Throughout history Christ has typically been painted in an idealized light, celebrating his holiness as the son of God. However, there have been some artists who have defied this tradition and revealed the Christ as less than triumphant and more human in nature. The artists and works of concern in this report are as follows: Andrea Mantegna, Lamentation of Christ (c. 1480); Caravaggio, Deposition of Christ (c. 1603-1604); Vincent van Gogh, The Pietà (after Delacroix) (c. 1889); and Max Ernst, The Blessed Virgin Chastising the Infant Jesus Before Three Witnesses (c. 1926). Each of these works challenge not only the practices of their particular period but of conventions around religious portrayal as a whole. The Lamentation of Christ is a common…show more content…
The self-confident and statuesque have been replaced by humility and subjection, with figures that are stooped, bent and bowed. Also known as Michelangelo Merisi, Caravaggio was an Italian painter whose revolutionary technique of Tenebrism – dramatic, selective illumination out of deep shadow – became the hallmark of the Baroque period. In The Deposition of Christ, Caravaggio “did not portray the burial in the traditional way, inasmuch as Christ is not shown at the moment when he is laid in the tomb, but rather when, in the presence of the holy women, he is laid by Nicodemus and John on the Anointing Stone.” (Vatican Museum). The inclusion of the five figures outside of Christ is emblematic of the Five Holy Wounds suffered on the cross. “Caravaggio arranged these figures in a compact composition consisting of a group outlined against a dark background and structured through a diagonal line that starts in the lower left corner and runs across to the top right. In the foreground are Nicodemus, who faces the viewer, and Saint John the Evangelist, both whom bear the Christ’s body. Christ’s hand brushes the slab on which he will be washed in a gesture that likely refers to him as the cornerstone and foundation of the Church. Behind the men and seen…show more content…
Son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and cultured atmosphere, Van Gogh believed it was his true calling to preach the gospel; however, it took years for him to discover his true calling as an artist. In 1886, at the age of 33, Van Gogh went to Paris and studied with Cormon. Here he met the Impressionist painters Pissarro, Monet and Gauguin and inevitably tried to imitate their techniques. Unable to copy the Impressionist style successfully he developed his own more unconventional and daring style. In 1888, after an incident involving a razor blade and Gauguin, van Gogh began alternating between fits of madness and lucidity; he was sent to an asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment. It was here he completed more than 30 copies of works by some of his favourite artists; yet rather than replicate, he sought to translate the subject and composition through his perspective, colour and technique. The Pieta (after Delacroix) was one of such endeavors. “Prompted by an accident” he said, “that lithograph of Delacroix, the Pieta, with other sheets had fallen into some oil and paint and got spoiled. I was sad about it – then in the meantime I occupied myself painting it, and you’ll see it one day.” Van Gogh’s figures are much more human when compared to Delacroix’s typical

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