Bible Paintings - Jesus is taken down from the cross

Jesus is taken down from the cross 

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Icon of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Modern images of Jesus and Mary: Mary in 'The Passion of the Christ'

Modern images
of Jesus and Mary

Mary and the angel Gabriel

Annunciation

Birth of Jesus

Finding the Saviour in the Temple, William Hunt, detail

Jesus' family

Photograph by Michael Belk

Jesus and children

Mary Magdalene sculpture

Mary Magdalene

Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, by Velázquez

Martha & Mary

Mary of Nazareth

Mary of Nazareth

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, Flandrin

Entry to Jerusalem

Jesus and the money changers

Jesus & the money-changers

Painting, Last Supper, Joos van Cleve

The Last Supper

Agony in the Garden, Heinrich, Gethsemane

Agony in the Garden

Spanish wood carving, The Kiss of Judas

Betrayal by Judas

Passion of Christ, Cranach

The Passion

Ecce Homo, by Quintin Massys

Jesus before Pilate

Crucifixion, Francis Bacon

Crucifixion

Burial of Jesus

Painting of the resurrected Christ

Resurrection

Fra Angelico, angel from painting of the Annunciation

Angels


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Crucifixion, by the Russian painter Nicolai Ge

The Death of Jesus

Nail piercing feet of a crucified man

Crucifixion : what archaeology shows

Reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus

Jerusalem
at the time of Jesus

The route to Calvary 

Route to Calvary

Aerial view of Jerusalem showing the site of the Temple

Maps of 
Jerusalem & Galilee
 

Model of the inner courts of the Temple of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus

Buildings Jesus knew

Herod, Pilate, Judas

 


 


 


 

 

Jesus' friends pried his dead body off the cross and lowered it into the arms of his mother Mary, and into the care of the disciples, mostly women, who waited on the slopes of Golgotha.


The 'Pieta' by Michelangelo


The 'Pieta' by Michelangelo

 

'Descent from the Cross', Rogier Weyden

'Descent from the Cross', Rogier Weyden

'Descent from the Cross', Rogier Weyden

 


'Descent from the Cross', Max Beckmann 1917

'Descent from the Cross', Max Beckmann 1917

Note that this German painting was done at the height of World War I, 
with Christ opening his arms to suffering humanity

 


 

'Descent from the Cross', Jean Jouvenet

'Descent from the Cross', Jean Jouvenet

 


'Descent from the Cross', Pieter Coeck van Aelst

'Descent from the Cross', Pieter Coeck van Aelst

 


'Descent from the Cross', Charles Le Brun

'Descent from the Cross', Charles Le Brun

 


'The Descent from the Cross', Tintoretto

'The Descent from the Cross', Tintoretto

Tintoretto presented the people in his paintings as individuals, capturing the moment as they experienced it. The descent from the cross was no longer a tableau with static figures, as it had been in Botticelli's paintings. Look at Mary's face. Unlike Jesus, she is still living, and suffering terribly. Her eyes have seen more than a mother can endure, and she has retreated into a semi-conscious state.

 


'The Descent from the Cross', Peter Paul Rubens, 1612

'The Descent from the Cross', Peter Paul Rubens, 1612

 


'The Descent from the Cross', James Tissot

'The Descent from the Cross', James Tissot

 


'Descent from the Cross', Peter Paul Rubens

'Descent from the Cross', Peter Paul Rubens


'Deposition from the Cross', Pontormo

'Deposition from the Cross', Pontormo

 

 

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  Hidden meanings   in paintings of the Descent from the Cross
  • Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich and respected member of the Sanhedrin - the Jewish legislative council in Jerusalem - and secretly a disciple, obtained permission from Pilate, the Roman governor, to take the body of Christ from the cross. He brought a linen sheet and together with Nicodemus who brought myrrh and aloes to preserve the body, took it down from the cross.

  • We see the nails being removed from the body, or the body being lowered from the cross. 

  • There are usually four people involved: Nicodemus with pincers drawing the nail from the left hand, Joseph taking the weight of the body, Mary holding the right hand which is already free, and the apostle John standing sorrowfully a little apart.  

  • From the 16th century and especially in later painting of the Spanish Netherlands the cross is viewed aslant, there are often four ladders, and two unidentified men lean over the cross-bar lowering the body to Joseph and Nicodemus. Mary Magdalene kneels, and there is a third woman, Mary the wife of Clopas. The instruments of the Passion lie on the ground: the crown of thorns, nails, and sometimes the inscripion and sponge. The body may be lowered to the ground by sliding it down a long winding-sheet.

  • Joseph and Nicodemus can be distinguished by their dress. The former is richly clad, in contrast to the latter who is of more lowly appearance. In supporting the body Joseph takes the upper part, Nicodemus the lower. St John is of youthful appearance, often long-haired. 

  • Prior to the Counter- Reformation the Virgin is sometimes seen swooning into the arms of her companions, but in later works she stands, perhaps clasping her hands.

  • Mary Magdalene, important in the Counter-Reformation as an example of Christian repentance, is a major figure.She is richly dressed and may wipe Jesus' feet with her luxuriant hair.

 

The Bible text:   Christ is taken down from the Cross

Matthew 27:57-58

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe'a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

Mark 15:42-46

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathe'a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

Luke 23: 50-54

50 Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathe'a. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.

John 19:38-40

38 After this Joseph of Arimathe'a, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicode'mus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. 40 They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

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Bible Art: Paintings and Artworks from the New Testament:  Jesus crucified, the Descent from the Cross

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Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Fletcher