Over the centuries, numerous artists from all disciplines have shown an interest in sacred art. On the occasion of Holy Week, which annually commemorates the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and which is celebrated each year on the basis of the first full moon of spring, we collect 10 outstanding works, in this case, painting and sculpture, dedicated to this theme:
1. Entry into Jerusalem, by Giotto di Bondone
On Palm Sunday, the Messiah, on the back of a donkey and escorted by his disciples, is received by the Jews with hope and joy upon his arrival in Jerusalem. In Giotto’s work, all eyes are on Jesus, in a scene in which the calm and sure figure of the Savior, who blesses his people, contrasts with the reactions of some inhabitants; such as those who undress and offer their tunic as a carpet for their entrance into the city, or those who climb on trees to better witness the event.
2. The expulsion of the merchants from the temple, by Giovanni Paolo Panini
When visiting the Temple of Jerusalem, Jesus finds it full of cattle and coin changers. He is so annoyed by this situation that he whips the cattle out and throws the tables of the money changers, causing the coins to fall to the ground. Panini placed the action in a porticoed space at the entrance to the temple. Jesus, at the top of the access staircase, stands out from the surroundings for the vivid color of his clothes, blue and pink, along with the shimmering halo around his head. At the same time, some merchants hastily collect their objects and others flee with their genus in different directions.
3. The Last Supper, by Leonardo Da Vinci
This review of Holy Week in the world of art continues with one of the most famous mural paintings, found in the Dominican convent of Santa María de las Gracias in Milan; made in tempera and oil on plaster. The moment it reflects, on Holy Thursday, is the moment immediately after Jesus announced to the apostles that one of them was going to betray him. Da Vinci details the different individualized reactions of each of the twelve disciples to this affirmation; some are astonished or frightened, others stand up because they have not listened well, and Judas, who unlike previous representations is not in front of the table, recedes when he feels alluded to. Its construction in perspective stands out, converging in Jesus, in the center, all the points of escape; besides a curious composition in which the apostles appear, isolated in the form of a triangle, grouped three by three.
4. The Crowning of Thorns, by Van Dyck
The crowning of thorns had great diffusion in the arts, being represented by El Bosco, Titian or Caravaggio. In the case of Van Dyck’s oil painting, Jewish soldiers dress Jesus in a tunic that simulates his royalty and makes him a crown of thorns to crown him, in a tone of mockery, as a king of the Jews; while a dog, at his feet, shows an aggressive pose. The peculiarity of the work lies in the anachronism of one of the soldiers wearing an armor from the time of the Flemish painter.
5. Christ embraced the cross, by El Greco
This is a recurrent theme throughout El Greco’s artistic career, as it was in great demand by the Toledan society of the Counter-Reformation. Jesus, in spite of his tearful eyes, looks at the sky with serenity; while he holds a very scorched cross on his way to Mount Calvary on Good Friday. His anatomy seems to be inspired by Michelangelo’s sculptural canons, although the Cretan painter lengthens the limbs to adapt them to his own language. As for the folds of his tunic, they are modeled with light and color in the style of the Venetian school that he admired so much.