Caravaggio 1573 – 1610

The Betrayal of Christ

oil on canvas (133 × 169 cm) — c. 1603 Museum National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Caravaggio biography

This work is linked to Luke 22:48

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Jesus' face expresses both resignation and pain. He knows what is about to happen to him. Note how he holds his hands. Judas Iscariot greets him with a kiss, so the soldiers know whom to capture.

To better see the face, it is illuminated by a lantern. The man holding the light is Caravaggio himself.

Breaking a rule of his craft, Caravaggio started this painting on a dark ground. The typical composition with the soldier stretching his arm was derived from an Albrecht Dürer woodcut.

The painting was commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei, a brother of Caravaggio's patron, Cardinal Mattei. Around 1800 the Mattei family sold it, erroneously attributing it to the Dutch master Gerard van Honthorst. It was rediscovered as a Caravaggio in 1990 while hanging in a Jesuit home in Dublin, Ireland.

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