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James Tissot: View from the Cross

James Tissot 1836 – 1902

View from the Cross

gouache (25 × 23 cm) — 1886-94 Museum Brooklyn Museum, New York City

James Tissot biography

This work is linked to Mark 15:37

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This work is also known as "What Our Lord Saw from the Cross". 

A motley crew has gathered round the recently crucified Christ. At his feet, we see a woman, probably Mary Magdalene. In the middle of a group of women, a possible two more Mary's: Mary, mother of Christ and Mary, mother of Jacob the Younger. The man to their left could be John the Evangelist.

Some Roman soldiers are looking on, including possibly a centurion – the man clad in red. He has a downcast look. After Jesus breathes his last, Luke has him acclaim: ‘This man was truly just'.

The men on horseback are Jewish scribes. They seem satisfied with the situation – after all, they were the ones who had pressed Pilate into having their rival crucified.

In the background, Tissot has painted a tomb where the body is to be deposited the same night. The pots in the foreground may contain edik (vinegar) that some joker offered Christ for water.

Tissot traveled to the Middle East in 1885, 1889 and 1896 to further his knowledge of the landscape, architecture and clothes and habits of the people, to illustrate the New Testament as truthfully as he could. The project resulted in 350 gouaches that were shown for the first time in Paris in 1894. All gouaches, including this one, are now in possession of the Brooklyn Museum.

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