Giovanni Bellini ca. 1430 – 1516

Agony in the Garden

tempera on panel (81 × 127 cm) — c. 1465 Museum The National Gallery, London

Giovanni Bellini biography

This work is linked to Matthew 26:39

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Peter, John and James lie sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus climbs the Mount of Olives and prays to his father. He senses his destiny and is very concerned about his near future. He asks to "let this cup pass from me". His wish is not honored, but an angel gives him strength.

Jesus had asked his followers to stay awake, but each time his returns from the mountain he finds them sleeping. That strengthens his loneliness.

In the background Judas and a group of Roman soldiers are approaching.

This painting by Giovanni Bellini is often compared to a painting his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna made a few years earlier on the same subject (here). It is obvious that Bellini painted in a more tranquil style, whereas Mantegna emphasized Jesus' emotions by setting the scene in a very harsh landscape. Bellini for instance shows a nice break of dawn, thus offering hope and salvation instead of predicting disaster.

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