Artwork of the Week: July 11, 2022
Luca Giordano (1634-1705), El Prendimiento de Cristo (Christ’s Arrest), no date, oil on canvas, 22 x 31 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Labor and Honor, the Andrea and James Clarke Family Foundation, 2022. Currently on display in the exhibition Of Souls and Sacraments: Symbol and Context in Christian Art.
Luca Giordano’s dramatic depiction of Christ’s betrayal and arrest following His wrenching ordeal at Gethsemane poignantly illustrates His knowing experience of psychosomatic distress as well as the Savior’s victory of spirit over flesh. A leering, ruddy-faced Judas and Roman guards surround Christ; their proximity heightening the sense of compression and imprisonment. The compositional staging may reflect the Psalmist’s prophecy of Christ’s arrest preceding trial and Crucifixion: For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me (Psalm 22:16). Jesus’ faint, sorrowful appearance alludes to His knowledge of the torment to come and emphasize His exhaustion and grief at intimate betrayal. Christ’s hand reaching over his heart implies his willingness to accept His fate.