Art Stories

Discover entertaining essays on a wide variety of artworks from our extensive collections in the section Art Stories.

Beyond the grave

Peter Paul Rubens, Large Lamentation, c. 1614/15, KHM, Inv. no. GG 529

From my son’s cold temple I draw a last thorn. The deep red blood fuses with the paling colour of my dead child’s skin. I will shut his lovely eyes. The blue death spots are increasing. From his nose a bit of blood has flowed.

He died on the cross.

We have covered his body with a clean, white cloth to protect it. Before us the tomb lies empty.

My tears fall upon his shoulder.

John, my son’s favourite disciple, holds the right arm of the corpse. He moves calmly and with composure; his hands and cheeks are rubicund. I however have assumed the pallor of my son.

At this, the saddest moment of my earthly existence, we could have withdrawn to the tomb’s darkness, but I wanted you to be able to see us at close hand and feel in all its facets the suffering patiently borne.

John lifts the tortured hand slightly towards you so that you are unable to overlook it. Nothing is to obstruct the view. This, I suspect, is not a coincidence, but the artist’s skill.

But think now of the seventh of my son’s seven last words: “It is finished”.

written by written by Cäcilia Bischoff, translated by Joshua Stein on 19.9.2017 in #I am Mary
to top