Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (1917) by Max Beckmann

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery - Max Beckmann - 1917

Artwork Information

TitleChrist and the Woman Taken in Adultery
ArtistMax Beckmann
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions58 3/4 x 49 7/8 in.
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationSaint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, US

About Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery

The artwork titled “Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” is a creation of Max Beckmann, completed in the year 1917. It is an oil on canvas painting, measuring 58 3/4 by 49 7/8 inches. As an exemplar of Expressionism, this religious painting is part of the collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, United States.

The composition of the artwork presents a vivid, unsettling tableau that is characteristic of Expressionism, emphasizing strong emotional expression over physical reality. Beckmann has captured a moment of moral and emotional tension derived from the biblical narrative. Central to the scene is the figure of Christ, draped in a simple cloth, His gesture calm and authoritative. He is poised between the accusers and the woman taken in adultery, who kneels at His feet, her posture and expression conveying desperation and a plea for mercy.

Surrounding figures display a range of reactions: from the accusatory demeanor of those who brought the woman before Christ to the varied emotions of the onlookers. Beckmann uses distorted forms and a constrained color palette to convey the psychological intensity and drama of the scenario. This work reflects the artist’s focus on the human condition and moral issues, often depicted through scenes of biblical or mythological significance. The angular lines, exaggerated facial expressions, and the interplay of gazes guide the viewer through the narrative, emphasizing the moral and emotional complexities of the scene.

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