The Burial of Jesus: famous Bible paintings

    Jesus' body is placed in the tomb 

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Icon of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

Modern images of Jesus and Mary: Mary in 'The Passion of the Christ'

Modern images
of Jesus and Mary

Mary and the angel Gabriel

Annunciation

Birth of Jesus

Finding the Saviour in the Temple, William Hunt, detail

Jesus' family

Photograph by Michael Belk

Jesus and children

Mary Magdalene sculpture

Mary Magdalene

Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, by Velázquez

Martha & Mary

Mary of Nazareth

Mary of Nazareth

Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, Flandrin

Entry to Jerusalem

Jesus and the money changers

Jesus & the money-changers

Painting, Last Supper, Joos van Cleve

The Last Supper

Agony in the Garden, Heinrich, Gethsemane

Agony in the Garden

Spanish wood carving, The Kiss of Judas

Betrayal by Judas

Passion of Christ, Cranach

The Passion

Ecce Homo, by Quintin Massys

Jesus before Pilate

Crucifixion, Francis Bacon

Crucifixion

Jesus taken down from the cross, painting detail

Descent from the cross

Painting of the resurrected Christ

Resurrection

Fra Angelico, angel from painting of the Annunciation

Angels


 

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Gospel text 
for this story

The crucified Christ, by Nicolas Ge

Crucifixion

Drawing of the lay-out of an ancient tomb

Ancient Tombs

Map showing the probably route taken by Jesus on the way to his death

The route to Golgotha

 


 


 


 

 

After his agony and death, Jesus' body was lifted down from the cross and gently prepared for burial: he was wrapped in a linen shroud and placed in the newly built tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. A number of people could testify to this, and to the fact that Jesus was really dead.


The Burial of Christ, Caravaggio

The Burial of Christ, Caravaggio

 


The Dead Christ, Mantegna

The Dead Christ, Mantegna

 


The Entombment of Christ, Juan de Juni

The Entombment of Christ, Juan de Juni

 


The Entombment of Christ, Carl Bloch

The Entombment of Christ, Carl Bloch

 


The Entombment of Christ, Fra Angelico

The Entombment of Christ, Fra Angelico

 


The Entombment, Peter Paul Rubens, 1612

The Entombment, Peter Paul Rubens, 1612

 


Lamentation over Christ, Peter Paul Rubens

Lamentation over Christ, Peter Paul Rubens

 


The Entombment, Dieric Bouts

The Entombment, Dieric Bouts

 


The Entombment, Giotto

The Entombment, Giotto

 


Entombment of Christ, Pietro Lorenzetti, 1320

Entombment of Christ, Pietro Lorenzetti, 1320

 


Entombment of Christ, Titian, 1526

Entombment of Christ, Titian, 1526

 


Entombment of Christ, Garafalo, 1520

Entombment of Christ, Garafalo, 1520

 


The Entombment of Christ, Weyden

The Entombment of Christ, Weyden

 

 

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 Hidden meanings   in paintings of Christ's burial

  • The setting of the scene presented a problem for artists. Very few, if any, had seen an ancient Middle Eastern tomb. They placed the action in front of a hollow rock, perhaps with a neatly rectangular entrance and a flat stone slab for a door, or inside the tomb.

  • Notice that all the paintings show the shroud. This is because it was important evidence later on, after the Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene, Peter and John were questioned about what they had seen in the tomb on Easter morning.Burial of Christ by Caravaggio, detail of the face of Mary, mother of Jesus

  • Joseph of Arimathaea took custody of the body, wrapped it in a clean linen sheet, and put it in his own tomb, which had only recently been built. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance, and left. He was watched by a number of women, including Mary Magdalene.

  • The gospel-writer John mentions that Joseph was helped by Nicodemus, `the man who had first visited Jesus by night' who brought myrrh and aloes to preserve the body. He also mentions that the tomb was in a garden near the place of crucifixion. 

  • Italian Renaissance paintings, disregarding the gospel account, have a simple rectangular sarcophagus in an open setting. The body of Christ, lying on a winding-sheet, is about to be lowered into it. Joseph of Arimathaea, who traditionally takes precedence over Nicodemus by virtue of rank and age, holds the sheet at the head; his companion, more humble in appearance, takes the feet. 

  • Mary, Jesus' mother, and John the apostle who were present at the Crucifixion stand beside the body. Mary Magdalene, as in the preceding scenes, may embrace the feet or she stands with her arms thrown up in a dramatic gesture of grief. 

 

The Bible textthe burial of Jesus

Matthew 27:57-61

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe'a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 Mary Mag'dalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre.

Mark 15:42-47

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathe'a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Mag'dalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Luke 23:50-55

50 Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathe'a. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid;

John 19:38-42

38 After this Joseph of Arimathe'a, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicode'mus also, who had at first come to him by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds' weight. 40 They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

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Bible Art: Paintings and Artworks from the New Testament:  the Burial of Jesus Christ

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Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Fletcher