Lamentation by Byzantine Painters and Jacob Cornelius

Last Updated: 02 Aug 2020
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Lamentation by Byzantine painters and Jacob Cornelist. Van Oostsanen So- called Lamentations are generally scenes of great soberness and sadness. Byzantine painters and Jacob narrates the same story with different style of painting and in different period. Both painters strove to make utterly convincing an emotionally charged realization of the theme. Both artists presented lamentation scene in more a natural setting and people in the image are fully modeled. They included crying Mary and other religious representation to tell their audience the story is taken from bible.

Both painting share the same biblical subject yet differ in a significant ways that show their respective embodiments of the 12th and 16th century styles. Byzantine painter presented their work on the wall painting style in the church, which is one of the oldest in Macedonia and was built and painted in 1164 under the patronage of Byzantine prince Alexios Komnenos. The church is most famous for it's exceptional fresco paintings, which convey dramatic facial expressions and emotions not commonly found in Byzantine art.

It was dedicated to saint Panteleimon. Byzantine painters embellished the church of saint Pantaleimon with murals of great emotional power. One of these, Lamentation, is a paint of passionate grief over the dead Christ. This scene actually represents a novelty in Byzantine wall painting because of its dramatic realism. This masterpiece narrates the history in a New Testament. Central place in the composition of the drama takes Christ while Joseph Arimatean, Nicodemus, Mary, and John are participant.

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Holy mother of God kissed the dead face of Christ, Joseph supports the body of Christ, John, who is the beloved apostle of Christ, bent down and he took Jesus hand to put it on his face, and Nicodemus who kneeled and with both hand he hold the pliers with which retrieves nails of the feet of Christ nailed to the cross. The painting shows their attitudes, expressions and gestures of sadness. Symbol of the Virgin Mary to her dead son is handed realistic, real-life scene shown, with an emphasis on human feelings. She is closest to Christ body than other Jesus followers shown on the image.

She put her right hand under Christ neck and the other hand just below his chest. She put her face against her dead son. Looking at her face, I can see she is quit emotional and cannot hide her feeling and grief instead she showed it by crying. John, who was the Christ disciple, also shows his deep feeling and sadness through his facial expression. The body of dead Christ also clearly shows he is dead. His body is proportional, slim and relaxed and his eyes are closed which reveal he is dead. The image of dead Christ doesn’t show his suffering clearly.

His body is muscular and clear of any wound. The wall above this scene is painted with blue color, which represents the sky color. In the sky there are angles watching over dead Christ. The main focus of the painter of this masterpiece is the lamentation, which describes the deep emotional feeling of Christ followers because of death. The actor in the picture showed emotional impact of Christ’s death for viewer. On the hand, the Holland woodcuts and painter of sixteenth century called Jacob Cornelisz Van Oostsanen presented the same scene with significantly different way.

This work was painted using tempera and oil on panel. In the byzantine painters primary attention is the lamentation of Christ and the emotion of his followers but here in the Van Oostsanen’s the emotional outpouring of Mary and Christ’s disciples seems secondary to the attention paid by the artist to the fashionably ostentatious headdresses and billowing drapery depicted here. He added little to show the painting’s emotional impact. Even though byzantine painters are good in showing the emotional impact they did not clearly show the sign were Jesus was nailed on the cross.

Van Oostsanen, on the other hand, showed the sign were Christ was nailed to the cross. The Van Oostsanen paint is more decorative with clothing and building style, which overshadow the emotional expression due to the scene. On the back of the painting there are two crosses one with person on the cross and the other cross is without a person and the ladder is inclined against it. The empty ladder is where Jesus was crucified. Most of the actors in this painting are not emotional and Mary is crying but not really emotional.

The skin color of this painting is more realistic than the byzantine painters used. In Van Oostsanen’s painting the face of the actors are little disproportionate. They have small and circular face. In byzantine painting Mary is very closely touching her son, however in the van Oostsanen painting she is sitting away for her son body and hold her son hand. The angles are also presented in the byzantine painting but in Van Oostsanen there is no angle representation. There is small figure in the lower left, which may represent the person who commissioned the painting.

In general, the painter was so talented and able to bring the picture alive with innovative movements, luxuriant, drapery, and careful balancing between relaxation and tension. Just like Van Oostsanen painting, Byzantine artist also showed the event around them through engraving to offer visual proof of emotion of human affection. The two painting are well done to show the lamentation of Christ. Although these artworks are done in different location and period, there are huge similarities in telling the biblical story. Both painters showed us the emotional human expression.

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Lamentation by Byzantine Painters and Jacob Cornelius. (2017, May 20). Retrieved from

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