I was immediately drawn to this captivating depiction of the Marys, (Mary mother of James, Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Cleophas) peering with wonder into the tomb that once held their Master. Not only are the women beautifully portrayed but the way the artist has arranged the painting makes the viewer feel as if he or she is a part of the scene, right there with the women as they discover what was thought to be impossible. Notice the dismay and confusion in their facial expressions, gestures, and body language.
I was so mesmerized by the women it took me a moment to notice the angel in the tomb. This burial place is no longer dark and filled with death but overflowing with light and life. The angel seems to be pointing up, explaining to the dismayed seekers that Jesus is not held there anymore. He is gone and his resurrection is a testament that he is the light and life that darkness and death can never overcome (John 1:5). By Christ’s victory over sin and death, the tomb has been transformed. Hopefully we are transformed by that news as well.
The painter, William Adolphe Bouguereau, is a French artist who was admired for his use of perspective and foreshortening, which is what allows the viewer to feel as if he or she is a part of the scene. Bouguereau chose to not dwell on the tomb but put most of his attention on the reaction of the women. He asks us to put ourselves in the place of these faithful and courageous women.
Being Human connection: Like these women, we too are invited to go and quickly tell others (Matthew 28:7). Love wins. Light overcomes. He has risen. He has risen indeed!
Featured art: William Adolphe Bouguereau, Le Santed Femmes au Tombeau (The Holy Women at the Tomb), 1890, Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp, Belgium