Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Painting of the day

In his final lecture on Image and Word, Professor Wheeler discussed Blake and Holman Hunt, both of whom inscribed biblical texts around some of their religious paintings.
William Holman Hunt painted The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple in 1854-60 after a visit to the Holy Land. You remember the story: Joseph and Mary were travelling back from their celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem when they realised that Jesus, who was twelve years old, was not with them. They returned to Jerusalem and found him teaching the elders in the temple.
I apologise for the reproduction of the painting (whose original is in Birmingham). You can see the Jewish elders sitting on the left and Jesus, Mary and Joseph on the right. Holman Hunt's paintings often tell a story from left to right across the canvas.The blind elder, sitting second from the left, holds the Jewish Law which is wrapped in a red and gold cloth. Jesus' sash is painted in the same colours. On the extreme right,  there is construction work. The old law is being transformed by Christ and a new temple is being built. Equally, the scaffolding resembles the cross which awaits Jesus and the beggar sitting on the steps may represent the suffering to come.
John Ruskin didn't like the painting because Jesus is looking away from his mother. Mary supports Jesus' left hand and has her arm around him but Jesus is stepping forward,symbolising the start of his mission.


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