Christ’s Passion Depicted through Naturalism
The Passion of Christ has been illustrated and depicted in numerous forms throughout history by artists, sculptors, and painters. Two such painters were Giotto di Bondone, who created Lamentation in 1305, and Rogier van der Weyden, who painted Deposition in 1435. Both artists do an exceptional job of creating two compelling depictions of Christ’s passion through naturalism. Giotto presents a scene of mourning in which the viewer has a looking glass of sorts through a kneeling character in green and a hunched over person in a yellow robe, right next to Jesus’ body being supported by his mourners. In the dark vast sky above, angels hold their hands to their ears and appear to be weeping, just like the group of nine next to Jesus and a mass of other behind them, some cut out of the frame. On the other hand, Rogier’s setting is in a room with a skull and bones on the ground. Christ’s body is being brought down from the cross while seven others, including the Virgin Mary, mourn. Not all the characters are weeping, but they are all figuratively connected through their visibly sad countenances as well as literally, as they all seem to be quite close or touching. Giotto and Rogier bring an unprecedented degree of naturalism to these scenes from the Passion of Christ, intensifying the emotional effect, through analytical approaches that include modeling, which conveys a sense of a three-dimensional setting that brings about a sense of movement in the characters, foreshortening that creates a sense of deep space in the scene, and the use of diagonal lines that draw the viewer in to the center of the painting, Christ. Thus, these artistic techniques enable them to depict Christ’s passion in a naturalistic way by bringing the characters in the scene alive.