Monday, April 15, 2013

Heads Of The Christ

Famous Heads of Christ

How Artists Have Depicted The Savior's Features
Hoffman's Divine Painting, Showing the Tender Pathos of "the Man of Sorrows" --Raphael's Masterpiece--One of the Most Pathetic Pictures of Christ Is the One Called "Carrying of the Cross"--Guido Reul's "Ecee Homo."

      Among the many beautiful conceptions of the divine face of Christ that artists have endeavored to portray on canvas are five that are so surpassingly beautiful and so wonderfully in harmony with the ideal of the God-man that suggests itself to most people that they have been universally declared to be masterpieces of sacred art. These five famous "Heads of Christ" are here reproduced. They form a collection that both saint and sinner will study with interest. 
      The picture of the Savior of mankind, shown with the face in profile, straight hair falling down to the shoulders, and a look of intense earnestness in the eyes, is taken from the world-famous painting of "Christ Before Pilate" by Munkacsy. This painting has been exhibited all over the world, and copies of it hang on the walls of countless homes. It represents Christ at one of the most trying periods of His troubled life, when brought into the presence of Pontius Pilate for declaring himself to be the Son of God. 
      The picture differs from almost all other famous pictures of Christ, in that it depicts Him with features that are stern and set, and with little trace of the compassionate sweetness that so many artists have given to the face of Christ. With the rabble howling around Him, Christ faces Pilate, and were it not for the position of the two, Pilate on his throne, Christ standing before him, it would seem that the relations were reversed, and that Pilate was the accused, Christ the accuser.
      The masterly had of the artist has thrown into the upturned face of Christ a latent suggestiveness of supernatural power that lifts it up from those surrounding it, and marks clearly the distinction between the divine and the human in the throng.
Christ before Pilate, 1881 by Mihály Munkácsy, oil on canvas 417 x 636 cm
      For a picture of the beautiful, the divine, the compassionate, for all that Christians love to look for in the face of Christ, the masterpiece of the modern artist Hoffmann is the one to turn to. The head of Christ is taken from Hoffmann's "Christ at the Door," The familiar picture representing Christ with a shepherd's crook in hand, knocking at the portals of a home. The tender sweetness of the face, which is turned full towards the spectator, is wonderfully shown. It is a face in which gentleness is emphasized by the settled melancholy of a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," It is pleading, pathetic, but not weak. The artist has ennobled the features of Christ so that the womanly attributes of gentleness and sympathy are made majestic by the strong manly attributes that save the face from any suggestion of effeminacy. The attitude is dignified and expectant, the face calmly, seriously, solemnly impressive.
      Raphael has given us the beautiful head of Christ, shown with the crown of thorns on the brow. It is taken from the picture entitled "Carrying of the Cross." It is one of the most pathetic of the entire gallery, and the face is one of the most interesting studies of all pictures of Christ.
Guido Reni's "Ecce Homo,"
      In the original, Raphael depicts Christ bending beneath the weight of the heavy wooden cross. The suffering eyes look patiently out from the shadow of the plaited crown of thorns whose sharp thorns pierce the forehead. The genius of the artist was never more strikingly shown than in the expression of this face of Christ. Even with the suffering and pain depicted on the countenance there is plainly seen the sympathy of the divine nature that prompted the utterance "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
      There is no resentment, no trace of indignation. The artist has made the face one of heavenly beauty and tenderness, even in the dreadful hour of the cross.
      Among the best known of the Biblical paintings is Guido Reni's "Ecce Homo," showing Christ in the agonies of His last hores, with the crown of thorns on His head, and dying eyes turned heavenward. It is one of the most pathetic of all the head of Jesus, and is a great favorite with many people. It is doubtful whether any artist has given us a more beautiful conception of Christ than has Guido Reni in his  "Ecce Homo."
      A picture that is unique among the conceptions of Christ is that of Titian, called "The Tribute Money." Christ is here shown with a calmly judicial face, with a tinge of the sadness that all artists impart to the Savior's features; it is the face of one who reasons convincingly, but without a shade of triumph over the successful turning of solemn pitying rebuke the befits the subject.

      Just left, is Titian's painting "The Tribute Money." The Tribute Money (Italian: Cristo della moneta - literally Christ of the money) is a circa 1516 oil painting by Titian, now held at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. It is signed "Ticianus F.[ecit]". It depicts Christ and a Pharisee at the moment in the Gospels (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26) when Christ is shown a coin and says "Render unto Caesar..."

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