Friday, April 22, 2011

Died He for me, who caused His pain?


This painting, known as both Cristo de San Plácido and Cristo crucificado, was painted in 1632 by the Spanish painter Diego Velázquez (1599 - 1660). The original, done in oil on canvas, measures 248 by 169 cm (67 inches by 98 inches) and hangs in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

The computer image above is too small to see Velázquez’s painting well. Click on it, then click on the next image also, and examine it in greater detail.

It is a fitting way to spend some of your time on this Good Friday.

[P.S. -- It is probably an indication of my great sin and depravity that although I looked at the enlarged painting for a long time yesterday and thought, “How horrible, how painful” I looked at it again this morning and thought, “It really doesn’t look so bad.” Of course, we moderns have the entertainment media to thank for that. We have all been desensitized by such television programs as NCIS and CSI: Miami and Law and Order SVU (for Special Victims Unit and which my wife keeps referring to as Law and Order SUV). Even though our culture now turns to blood and guts and gore and violence for relaxation, I think the version of the crucifixion presented in Mel Gibson’s The Passion is probably much more likely to resemble what actually happened than the stylized, almost antiseptic by comparison, portrayal in the Velásquez painting. --RWP, 4/22/2011]

3 comments:

Snowbrush said...

"It is probably an indication of my great sin and depravity that although I looked at the enlarged painting for a long time yesterday and thought, “How horrible, how painful” I looked at it again this morning and thought, “It really doesn’t look so bad.'”

You lose me completely on your first line here because, after all, you're not looking at the crucifixion, you're looking at one painter's interpretation of the crucifixion, and I strongly suspect that he was trying to convey an emotion rather than an actuality. For example, the background is two dimensional, and Christ looks pasty, clean-skinned, and delicate. There is but little blood. He has the wound in his side, so he's presumably dead, yet he's still standing up, with an air of what I take to be patience and only minimal physical discomfort (in any case, not gut-wrenching agony). I think Rhymes, that the painter meant to portray an impression of alienation and sadness rather than the gore that Gibson is so obsessed with, not just in "The Passion" but in most of his movies that I've seen. Does that strike a chord, maybe?

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes, it just hit me that another departure from realism can be seen by the fact that there's no pooling of blood toward the lowest part of the body, as is always seen in corpses. By the way, I don't mean to criticize the painting because I would consider it a great one. and certainly preferable to the kind of literalism that makes one recoil in horror. This Christ is represented as a vulnerable and abandoned man whom draws people toward him as opposed to making them want to turn away.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, I noticed the departure from realism too, in that Jesus was still standing up although the wound in His side occurred after He was already dead, according to the gospel account. I heard in a sermon, or read somewhere, that death by crucifixion actually occurs because of suffocation, not because of loss of blod, when the weight of the body causes it to sag, resulting in unbearable pressure on the lungs and heart, after attempts to remain erect and alleviate the pain have failed. The Wikipedia article on crucifixion refutes this idea, however.

The title of my post is a line from the first verse of Charles Wesley's hymn, "And Can It Be That I Should Gain?"; the entire hymn can be found here.