October 12


The Risen Christ

This painting is Italian artist Bartolomeo Suardi’s work titled, The Risen Christ. Suardi was a devoted follower and mentee of the great Italian architect and artist, Donato Bramante, so he is better known as Bramantino (“little Bramante”). Bramante’s haunting portrayal of Christ is different than most others in the 15th century. We are used to seeing the risen Christ a little more triumphant, which may be why this depiction leaves the viewer a little uneasy. His still, sad face and bloodless body are disturbing.

Jesus has not yet put aside his burial cloths. No one has yet arrived to mistake him for the gardener or anyone else, for that matter. But they will arrive soon. We are told that when the risen Lord appeared to the disciples, they were terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost. If Jesus appeared to his disciples as he does here, we can understand why they would think that. But he is no ghost.

Most artists of that day would show a more tortured body—congealed blood and the jagged wounds. But not Bramantino. He knows we already know about death. It’s resurrections we are in short supply of.

Being Human Connection: In the piece of artwork I shared last week (The Forgiving Father), I asked you to view the scene as Christ returning to his Father after giving all he had to give. He was spent and exhausted. This depiction is similar. Jesus looks as if he has given his all. His face is gaunt and haggard and there is a distinct look of sadness in his reddened eyes. He looks directly at us. He is not alone. We are there. And it was for us.

Featured art: Bromantino, The Risen Christ, 1490, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” -Luke 24:36-39