Sunday, January 20, 2008

Christ's Body in the Tomb

There is an intriguing piece of art that plays a central role in The Idiot (It is also mentioned surrounding the events I posted about earlier in The Essence of Christianity in The Idiot).

The painting in question is Christ's Body in the Tomb by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1521 (One of the greatest portraitists of the early modern period and also contributor to Martin Luther's translation of the Bible):









(click for higher resolution)

It is said that after reading a description of the painting in Letters of a Russian Traveler, Dostoevsky made a special stop to see the painting at the Basel museum (Switzerland) a year before publishing The Idiot. Upon seeing it, Dostoevsky even stood on a chair in the museum in order to study the painting more closely and mentioned to his wife, "A man can even lose his faith from that painting!"

I can relate to Dostoevsky's comment. When confronted with the vivid reality of a decaying body in the tomb it forces one to confront the nature of faith; faith in a dead man's resurrection. This would make a great piece of art for an Easter service.

What do you think?

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