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Any piece of art, particularly a painting, is a product of artist’s instinct, inventiveness, creativity, and artistry. A work of art displays complex characteristics that are in the form of abstracts, inscriptions or, pictures. The drawings often elicit a myriad of emotions in art enthusiasts as well as in ordinary people. These reactions vary depending on the perspective, interest and, expertise of the viewer or the analyzer. Therefore, individuals derive different descriptions of an image. The significance of artistic compilation applies to every aspect of the society, that is, socioeconomic and politics. They connect people to their past and sometimes project the future, an overwhelming importance that cannot be understated whatsoever. There are several drawings and paintings in national archives, museums and other storage facilities that innately carry an array of messages. Furthermore, the artists have different dispositions, circumstance and, motives designing the iconic paintings. Iconic drawings and paintings by Andrea Solari are Charles d’Amboise, Virgin of the Green Cushion, Madonna with child and portrait of Giovanni, and of course, Jesus Christ bound and with a crown of thorns. It is this painting that is going to form the basis and subject of discussion in this article. Renaissance artists like Andrea Solario have used portraits to communicate their feelings, beliefs, ideas, and messages just like their contemporary counterparts do.
Figure 1Christ Crowned with Thorns
Andrea Solari Biography
Solari lived during the era of cultural rebirth in Europe and was affiliated with the Milanese school of painting. He used to be Andrea del Gobbo before his Christianization. Two other Renaissance painters share his prior nomenclature. Having been trained by his brother, Solari, later on, went to Venice with his brother where Solari met Antonello da Messina who greatly influenced his works. Concepts of his mentor can be witnessed in the painting Man with a Pink. Andrea’s first recorded work is Madonna and Child on a serene landscape. It was done in 1495 for the church of San Pietro Martire in Murano. His drawings are kept in museums in Millan, Venice, the Louvre and Normandie France. Virgin of the Green Cushion is one of his most famous artworks. It is stored the Louvre. Here a lady presumably Mary Magdalene, embarks to cleanse and smear some oil on the corpse of Jesus Christ. She’s transferring the oil into a smaller, more usable jar. She runs into an empty tomb. Before she could leave, an angel appears to her and declares that Jesus Christ has arisen.
Solari got a recommendation for work in France in 1507 and stayed in France for two years working in a chapel. He probably visited Flanders while in France which might account for his late arts having a Flemish character like Flight in Egypt in 1515. He was an ardent follower of Leonardo Davinci. This influence can be seen from facial expressions that are similar to those on Leonardo’s paintings.
Description of Christ Bound and Crowned with Thorns
The background of Christ Bound and Crowned with Thorns is a black canvas. This blackness depicts darkness indicating that it was at night. A person is at its center. He is bearded and with small breasts proving that he is a man. He has long hair too. On his head is an intertwined twig of thorn placed as a throne. The throne of the spine is very conspicuous, and perhaps the artist wanted people to notice it prominently. He is middle-aged. The man is presumably Jesus Christ. His eyes are half closed, and his head slightly bent to the right. This picture is a portrayal of an individual who is in great distress. He wears a purple overcoat that leaves much of his torso bare. The artist deliberately chose purple to show how dire the situation was for this man here. The color is bright and so catches attention seriously. His hands are crossed just below the chest. The arms are tied together with a rope that joins them to the neck. The knots are not very tight. Though in great distress, the man appears to be doing everything to keep his composure. The right hand is holding a bamboo stick while the left one is holding the hem of the coat. He is a white man with a broad jaw bone and a less protruding cheek born, an indication that he is either Semitic origin or European cradle. His long nose is further evidence to the above assumption. The drawing is highly renaissance as it revives past writers’ artwork.
Comparison and differences with other Renaissance Paintings
Christ Blessing by Andrea Solari
It is an oil paint on a wooden board. Jesus is seen standing on a rag probably at the pulpit. On the background is a green curtain hanging on a brown wooden door frame. He is wearing a loose purple cloak with a grey piece draping the left shoulder and waist to below the right knee. He has got open sandals. The right hand is raised to head level, and index finger is pointed forward while the left hand is opened and lifted above the waist. He’s bearded with long hair on his head. He has a broad face with a prominent nose. It is similar to the portrait of Christ bound and crowned with thorns structurally. In both paintings, Jesus is wearing purple robs, bearded and with long hair on his head. In both, Christ exudes composure. In Christ Blessing, the situation is not very dire but relaxed and conducive to ministering. On the other hand, the circumstances are pretty severe in Christ bound as evident with the crown of thorns. The overall theme, in either case, is however similar as they both are intended to show compassion and passion for Christ. They are highly renaissance as they are both characterized by an ambiance and architecture of European renaissance.
Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci
It is a highly renaissance oil paint dated to c. 1500. It is a portrait of Jesus on a brown wooden frame. From the chest upwards, Christ is wearing a sky blue robe with brown ribbons crisscrossing about the heart. He is, like in the two cases above, bearded and with long curly hair on his head. He has a broad face with low cheek bone and prominent long nose. His right hand is raised to head level with index and middle fingers raised and the rest folded. It is similar to Christ bound for its black background and similar faces. They can be easily identified as portraits of one man. They both revolve around the persona of Christ. The differences, however, lie on circumstances as Christ bound is at the moment before crucifixion while Salvatore Mundi is a peaceful mood during ministry or at a dinner.
The context of Workshop of Christ Bound and Crowned with Thorns
Jesus was being led to the field of the skulls also known as Golgotha, in Calvary for crucifixion. They designed a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. This was meant to mock him. The gentles were flogging him, hurling stone and sputum at him. He was in great distress. His mother, Mary Magdalene, and his disciples were wailing bitterly. After that, he was crucified flanked by two thieves who had the same fate that day. A thief on his left asked him to rescue him and him but the one the right asked to be remembered when Jesus reached heaven. Soldiers came to remove the corpses from the crosses since they were not supposed to stay there into the Sabbath day1. Persecuted victims who had not died hitherto were being broken. Jesus’ legs were not cut because he was dead already. At three that evening his body was lowered from the cross to be interred in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. After three days he resurrected and later on descended to heaven.
We can do it today.
Historical Context of Christ Bound and Crowned with thorns
Rome had adopted Christianity as their state religion. This doctrine was imposed by Emperor Nimrod who was an ardent fun of Christ. Everybody was craving any extra information of what was during the time of Jesus. There conflicting data on what was the truth. With the curiosity to find out about the life of Jesus such drawings abound. Most painters were brought up in a Christian background. Further, most of them operated in a church setting. Religion was part and parcel of government. Painters had no alternative instead adhering to the accepted practices. The church and by extension the government expected nothing less than complete devotion from its subjects. The commitment was critical for proving allegiance to these doctrines. Artists, moreover, wanted to remain relevant and create objects that would sell among the populace of Rome. Any practice otherwise, was deemed blasphemous and was at times punishable by death. People did their best, therefore, to avoid such an abominable fate.
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- De Leiris, Alain. “Manet’s Christ Scourged and the problem of his religious paintings.” The Art Bulletin 41, no. 2 (1959): 198-201.
- Artists, United Visual, Vanishing Point, and Dennis Oppenheim. “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the court of Milan.” (2011).