(second half 16th century)
The Taking of Christ
oil on panel
43 x 30 1/4 in., frame: 48 1/4 x 36 in.

Provenance: The Collection of a Boston Family.

Other Notes: This work depicts the moment, as described in the Synoptic Gospels, that Christ is arrested, having been identified by Judas' kiss. In the image, Judas is depicted to the immediate left of Christ, with his arm wrapped around Christ's chest and his eyes gazing up toward Christ's bowed head. Guards surround Christ, ready to take him to trial, where he would be condemned to death. At the lower right of the image is one of Christ's disciples (named as Peter in the Gospel of John), with his sword raised, about to cut off the ear of one of the guards, often thought to be the slave Melchus. Christ is nearly centered in the composition, seemingly calm, the only figure not gesticulating, shouting, or looking around wildly, in stark contrast with the violent chaos surrounding him. Heavenly light shines around his head, drawing the viewer's eye to his peaceful visage, and allowing the viewer to connect directly with Christ despite the visual barrier created by the numerous arms of the soldiers restraining him. This scene, perhaps best known through Caravaggio's ca. 1602 depiction, was appreciated as a particularly challenging and impressive one for artists to paint, as the taking of Christ was a nighttime event. In this work, the artist included details such as the flaming torches in the background and the broken lantern in the foreground to indicate the nocturnal setting.

  • Condition: Panel split vertically in thirds, with other partial vertical splits near edges; reinforced with horizontal wooden backing, verso; area of flaking paint, lower left corner; scattered restoration throughout; board bowed.

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November 5, 2017 12:00 PM EST
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