Saturday, April 12, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Martyre de Jésus de Nazareth (Aimé Morot)

As I've said before, I think every great artist has to paint at least one representation of Christ sometime in their career.  Aimé Morot painted what has to be, in my opinion, the most haunting image of Christ on the cross that I've ever seen.  Every once in a while, you'll see a picture of Christ's crucifixion that attempts to make the scene just a little to "beautiful" and celestial, and it misses the point of the crucifixion altogether because it tries to sugarcoat something that should be gravely offensive.  Morot's picture has none of that.
Morot does something much different with his crucified Christ than what we typically see.  He isn't exactly fastened to the cross in the traditional images we see.  He just sort of dangles from the T-shaped cross, and it's difficult to make out if his feet are even nailed.  They are hanging from the side of the vertical beam, and it almost appears as though he is struggling to find a way to get his feet to grip onto the beam for leverage.
Still, Morot has painted beauty in this very ugly and horrific scene.  The way in which Morot has painted Christ's torso, and the ribcage protruding with such an intelligent sense and understanding of the anatomy gives us a visual of the pressure on his chest as he fights for every breath.  Also look at the way in which Christ's arms are carelessly placed on the horizontal beam.  This along with the way his body dangles from the cross illustrates how much his executioners did not care.  It is unlike other crucifixion pictures where we see Christ on a perfectly symmetrical cross, and his arms are evenly spread out, and feet neatly aligned, one over the other.  Here we see Christ thrown on the cross, and his arms hastily tied and nailed down in no particular fashion, and his legs left to hang freely, showing there was not even the slightest reverence toward Christ even as a human being, let alone the Son of God.
The dark, empty void of the background also adds to the eerie nature of the image.  There is no evidence of anyone around him, and so it captures the intense feeling of abandonment of Christ on the cross as he cries out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"
The painting is dark and horrific, as it should be.  We should never be desensitized by the crucifixion of Christ, and it should never become something we take lightly.  It should always be something that is heartwrenching and gutwrenching as Morot has painted it here.  We ought not forget that this should have been our cross and our death.  But this image reminds us that Christ was living, walking proof that God's love is stronger than pain, and stronger than death.

Martyre de Jésus de Nazareth
oil on canvas

1 comment:

  1. Superb picture. I agree mostly with your comments to it. I did not know the existence even of this paintor. Incredible reflecting which goes beyond the picture showing a real sense not just a portrait.