Saturday, March 28, 2015

Devotional 3-28-14

Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) was an extremely wealthy, eccentric, world traveler as well as
an art collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. (Sadly, no relation to me). She actually built a museum in Boston to house her extensive collection, with strict instructions that nothing would ever be altered or changed.* I am fortunate to have visited this museum twice. The first time I must have walked right by the painting below, but the second time I was mesmerized by it.

The painting is "Christ Carrying the Cross" by Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516). It is a small piece which sits on a desk, so the viewer can be eye to eye with the depicted Jesus.

Alan Chong wrote in The Eye of the Beholder, "The subject has been excerpted from the narrative representations of Christ carrying the cross to Mount Calvary. However, lacking distracting details or any indication of setting, this image focuses instead on the tear-streaked face of Christ, who stares out at us melancholically, as well as the knotty wood cross over which he casts a shadow. It is an intimate and intensely personal depiction of a suffering more emotional than physical."

The artist isn't focusing on the violence of Good Friday. Notice there's no blood dripping down Christ's face or on his white robe. But look at the eyes! I spent several minutes starring at those eyes and came away with Jesus saying to me, "Yes, I'm going through with it."

I invite you to spend a few minutes with this painting and draw your own conclusions. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Anita Gardner Farrell
* If you would like to know more about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum:

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