Throughout history, Jesus Christ has been one of the most prominent figures in art and the written word. Jesus Christ is perhaps the most renowned and known figure that exists throughout history, and many have sought to capture his likeness for a variety of reasons. Some have wished to exalt him on a personal level, as a pact made between themselves and their spirituality, and others have wanted to inspire his followers by creating a visual connection between themselves and Jesus Christ. Regardless of their intentions, history has shown that many great artists have created visually striking and timeless works of art based both around Jesus Christ and his followers. These paintings sometimes show Jesus as a young man, throughout his life or during his final days, but they are always meaningful and profound.
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
The most famous painting of Jesus Christ is, of course, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. In The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci hoped to capture Jesus Christ dining for the final time with his apostles. The Last Supper was painted as a fresco and, like most of Leonardo’s work, contains many hidden aspects. Leonardo da Vinci was a renowned genius who had a wide variety of interests, and he brought his unique attention to detail to this piece. Unfortunately, because it was a fresco that was painted on still wet plaster it has had to undergo numerous restoration attempts, some of which have actually lost some of the fine detail that Leonardo originally intended. Though the full glory of Leonardo’s piece may never be experienced again, today’s viewer can still note the remarkable composition of the painting.
The Last Judgment by Michelangelo
The Last Judgment resides as a fresco on the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and is known as one of the world’s greatest works of art. The work is intended to show the second coming of Christ, but there’s also a lot more going on than just this. Michelangelo labored for many years on the Sistine Chapel and many consider it his greatest work. Michelangelo risked his reputation to create a raw and powerful image of humanity and their salvation in this incredibly composed and classic piece.
Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto
Many of the most famous pictures of Jesus Christ depict him as a child, as this was when he was still innocent of the sin of man. Ognissanti Madonna shows an infant Jesus Christ on the lap of a beatific and serene Mary. This painting is notably famous because it was a precursor to the Renaissance art period. Giotto was a painter that was before his time and his painting clearly depicts many of the aspects that would later become famous through the Renaissance. Any art student or art hobbyist will recognize the subtle depth of this piece and the development of realism and perspective that would come to shape Renaissance art as a whole.
Christ Carrying the Cross by El Greco
Christ Carrying the Cross is a famous painting by El Greco which depicts a serene Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns carrying the cross that he would later die on, only to be later resurrected. Jesus Christ is depicted without pain or suffering, which is what makes this piece of art truly transcendent. In this painting, El Greco hoped to capture the otherworldly love of Jesus Christ rather than the pain and suffering that he could have experienced. Jesus Christ looks upwards in this painting, showing that his focus is on matters above the earth. On a purely technical level, El Greco showed a sublime use of subdued colors and a clear skill in his medium.
The Transfiguration by Raphael
The Transfiguration is the great artist Raphael’s last work of art. Raphael is the quintessential High Renaissance artist and has been praised as one of the greatest artists who ever lived. The Transfiguration is an incredibly detailed and profound painting that depicts Jesus Christ rising at Mount Tabor, joined by Moses and Elijah. Within the same painting, the Apostles are seen to be attempting to heal a sick child, which is only possible through the presence of Jesus Christ. This painting has deep meaning and resonance, and artistically is a tour de force of skill and passion. The painting, which was present beside Raphael’s bed at death, represents the complete culmination of the master’s skill and technique.
Christ of Saint John on the Cross by Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali was well-known for his modern and surrealist approach to art, and Christ of Saint John on the Cross is no exception. However, despite the interesting way in which Salvador Dali interpreted his art, a viewer will find that the message of Christ of Saint John on the Cross is extremely similar to that of paintings in the Renaissance and before. The pathos and drama of the image are timeless. This famous work of modern art depicts Jesus Christ on an abstracted form of a cross, highlighting the fact that it is not the cross itself that was important but instead the man. Nothing is seen in the back of Jesus Christ except a checkerboard pattern that goes on into nowhere. Salvador Dali claimed the painting appeared to him in a dream and was intended to represent a nucleus that was Christ.
Christ Crucified by Diego Valazquez
Christ Crucified is a deep and transcendent look at the last moments of Jesus Christ before he was reborn, painting in 1632 by Diego Valazquez. Jesus Christ is depicted on a cross over a deep black, featureless expanse. Christ Crucified operates much like a meditation upon the final moments of Christ and allows the viewer to contemplate the moment without any distractions or additions. The haunting minimalism of the piece underscores a moment in time that demands focus, reflection, and solitude. No one is seen in the painting but Jesus Christ himself, which shows him at a moment in which he felt he was alone with the sin of mankind. However, the golden glow just behind his head shows that he is not truly alone.
About the Author:
Clare Tames is a self-employed freelance graphic designer, formidable cook, an avid reader. She has written on contemporary and classical art in various print publications and is just now beginning a writing career online. She works out of her home office in California, where her two children attend high school.