Wednesday, 25 February 2009


One of the things I do at Lent is to change my desktop picture. This is the Grunewald Crucifixion from the Isenheim altarpiece, from 1515.

Unlike other works of art from this period the artist is not searching for a portrayal of beauty, but has given over his work to provide 'a sermon in pictures'.

The figure of Christ upon the cross is in agony, suffering all the torments of this moment, notice the gesture of his hands.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is in widow's clothing, Mary Magdalene, with her jar of ointment is wringing her hands in sorrow. John the Baptist stands beside the ancient symbol of the Lamb that was slain, proclaiming, 'He must increase, but I must decrease.'

I read somewhere that Karl Barth had a print of this altarpiece above his desk.

It is towards the cross, that place of atonement where by his sacrifice Christ turned onto himself all the wrath of God, that it might not fall upon us, towards the cross every figure in this work looks, and we journey there during Lent.

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