• Scenes from the Passion of Christ

Scenes from the Passion of Christ

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Scenes from the Passion of Christ (The Passion of Christ):
Artist: Hans Memling; Oil painting on panel; Size: 56.7x92.2 cm; Galleria Sabauda, Turin.

Scenes from the Passion of Christ is an oil painting on a panel of Baltic oak, painted c.1470 by German-born Early Netherlandish painter Hans Memling. The painting shows 23 vignettes combined in one narrative composition without a central dominating scene: 19 episodes from the Passion of Christ, the Resurrection, and 3 later appearances of the risen Christ (to Mary Magdalene, on the road to Emmaus, and at the Sea of Galilee). The painting was commissioned by Tommaso Portinari, an Italian banker based in Bruges, who is depicted in a donor portrait kneeling and praying in the lower left corner, with his wife, Maria Baroncelli, in a similar attitude in the lower right corner.
At the top, from the left, we see the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, then the Expulsion of the Merchants from the Temple. Judas's Betrayal of Jesus and the Last Supper are illuminated by the light of torches. And then, in the foreground on the left, the Agony in the Garden and the Arrest of Jesus take place at night. The peacock on the wall of the city symbolizes the Resurrection and eternal life: the spear of the soldier on the left indicates the direction of the narrative. Peter denies Christ, who is taken before Pilate and then scourged. Christ is crowned with thorns and shown to the people (Ecce homo), while the cross is constructed. The procession continues outside the walls of the city on the road to Calvary, with Christ stumbling and looking toward the observer. Christ is nailed to the cross, whose position on the ground shows us the direction to follow. And it is the Crucifixionthat dominates the scene. The descent from the cross is followed by the Deposition in the Tomb and then the Resurrection, with the successive apparitions of Christ, Noli me tangere, the Pilgrims at Emmaus, and Christ on the Sea of Galilee,immersed in the landscape.
Unlike other altarpiece, this painting is in small size, 56.7x92.2cm. It may have been intended for Portinari's chapel in the church of St Jacob in Bruges. It was not catalogued in Portinari's belongings when he died in 1501, and is thought to have been moved from Bruges to Florence between 1510 and 1520. It is first recorded in the collection of Cosimo I in Florence in 1550. The painting is now held by the Galleria Sabauda in Turin.

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