A Caravaggesque 'Christ' in Scotland

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Abstract

AN IMPRESSIVE UNPUBLISHED painting, Christ displaying his wounds (Fig.31) in the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland, is a significant addition to the Caravaggesque canon, but also a distinct attributional challenge. A pale-skinned, three-quarter-length Jesus, his lower body enveloped in a thick, white, richly modelled linen cloth (his shroud), cast over his left arm like a toga, stares intently out of the picture, grimacing and frowning as he draws open the wound on his side with both hands, which have almond-shaped nail wounds. This triad of wounds is accentuated in a bright vermilion, which is also used for the lips, together providing the only striking hue in an otherwise muted colour scheme which is, however, animated by a fine array of light and shadow determined by a strong light falling from the top left. Adding to the sense of Christ’s suffering is a piece of rope round his lower left bicep, although it is not inconceivable that this is attached to an indecipherable feature protruding to the centre right of the drapery over the left arm, which could be a part of the cloth itself but might be a water flask – perhaps an allusion to the ‘living water’ that Christ offered the Samaritan Woman (John 4:8–15).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-690
Number of pages9
JournalThe Burlington Magazine
Volume151
Issue number1279
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

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