The Resurrection (1515) by Grunewald

The Resurrection - Grunewald - c.1512 - c.1516

Artwork Information

TitleThe Resurrection
Datec.1512 - c.1516
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions269 x 307 cm (105 7/8 x 120 7/8 in.)
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationMusee d'Unterlinden, Colmar

About The Resurrection

The artwork “The Resurrection” is a significant oil on panel painting by Mathias Grunewald, created approximately between the years 1512 and 1516 as part of the Northern Renaissance movement. This religious painting is a part of the renowned Isenheim Altarpiece, which measures 269 x 307 cm (105 7/8 x 120 7/8 in.). The artwork is housed in the Musee d’Unterlinden in Colmar.

“The Resurrection” presents a visual narration of the biblical event of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. Dominating the composition is the figure of Christ, who appears to be almost supernaturally levitating above a dark, tomb-like space. His body is enveloped in flowing drapery of white and radiant red, suggesting divinity and sacrifice. Christ’s pose is dynamic, with outstretched arms, and the wounds of the Crucifixion are prominently visible, symbolizing his suffering and ultimate triumph over death.

A radiant halo encircles Christ’s head, illuminating the space around him, and further emphasizing the nature of this moment as divine and miraculous. The background of the artwork is filled with a deep, celestial blackness, studded with golden stars, contrasting with the brightness of the figure of Christ and reinforcing the notion of his emergence from darkness into the light of resurrection.

Below Christ, the artwork captures the dramatic reaction of the Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb. They are depicted in a state of chaos and disarray, with some toppled over, others in a stupor, and one seemingly recoiling in shock. Their armor and attire are detailed with meticulous realism, a hallmark of Northern Renaissance art, and contribute to the sense of movement and disorder at this miraculous event.

Grunewald’s handling of the subject, marked by intense emotion and vivid contrasts, alongside his masterful use of color and light, results in a compelling and spiritually charged depiction of the Resurrection, making it an enduring masterpiece from the period.

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