The only woman to give evidence at the trial of Christ

The only woman to give evidence at the trial of Christ

It is one of the most famous depictions of the trial of Christ. And the detail of each character is impressive. Pontius Pilate is there, brittle with stress and apprehension, his brow furrowed, his arms awkwardly crossed, sitting in judgement of Christ. The chief priests and elders surround Pilate, badgering him for a verdict in their favor. The baying crowd, held in check by a Roman centurion, lean around each other to catch a glimpse of the accused. One man throws his hands in the air and cries, “Crucify him!” Christ himself, ghostly and otherworldly, stands still in the center of the picture, gazing at the Roman prefect as he vacillates before pronouncing his judgement. Christ Before Pilate was painted by the Hungarian artist, Mihály Munkácsy in 1881 and was an immediate success. During its first showing in Paris it attracted thousands of people every day. Munkácsy then arranged for it to go on a four-year tour across the galleries of Europe. He was hailed as the new Michelangelo or Rembrandt. Those who viewed the enormous canvas, 20 feet long and 13 feet high, reported feeling immersed in its drama, surrounded by the fury and the tension of the scene it depicts. But soon, viewers began to ask who was that young mother of Raphaelic beauty standing by the pillar

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Is this the greatest Easter painting of all time?

Is this the greatest Easter painting of all time?

It has the imposing title, The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection. More often than not it’s just referred to by the shortened form, The Disciples or Les Disciples. You won’t find it in the Louvre or the Met or the National Gallery. It hangs tucked away in an old railway station in Paris, now the Musée d’Orsay, on the left bank of the Seine. It was painted in 1898 by a relatively little known Swiss artist named Eugène Burnand. He was something of an old-fashioned realist at a time when all the cool kids were embracing modernism. The Disciples didn’t make a splash when it was first hung. Burnand’s style was already considered passé by the 1890s. But those who take the time to find it in the d’Orsay come away saying that viewing the canvas is akin to a spiritual experience. Some say it is the greatest Easter painting ever made.   Scroll up and look again at the picture. As the first blush of dawn is tinting the clouds, Peter and John are rushing to the tomb of Christ. They’ve just been told by Mary Magdalene that she and the other women found it empty, that Christ has risen. Her words are ringing in their ears. But their faces and their bodies

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