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The 10 Best Paintings Of Jesus Ever (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 12/24/11 07:04 PM ET   Updated: 12/25/11 11:56 AM ET

Christmas is upon us, and what better way to celebrate then by shuffling through a slideshow of Jesus in all of his many forms? Some are baby, some are stern, some are alive, some are dead, some are controversial, some are sacred... you get the picture. From Michelangelo to Goya, art history's greats have all taken a turn depicting Jesus. We may have missed a winner or two... which is your favorite?

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Love, HuffPost Arts.

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  • 'Christ Pantocrator' was made in the Byzantine era, sometime between 1090 and 1100. This Jesus is very serious and very flat.

  • 'Ognissanti Madonna' was made by Giotto in 1314. Although he incorporates some of the gold and flat ornament of his Byzantine predecessors, you can see Giotto make steps toward the perspectival representations of reality which would shape the Renaissance. But the depictions of Jesus, like young boy Jesus depicted here, had a lot of growing up to do.

  • 'Lamentation of Christ' was made by Andrea Mantegna in 1480. His intense use of foreshortening heightens the drama of the scene, with the interplay between light and shadow as well as the violent perspective. Mantegna was known for his masterful manipulation of perspective, although if you look closely, Jesus' feet are a bit too small.

  • 'The Last Supper' made by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1495 portrays Jesus eating his last meal, surrounded by all his favorite apostles, and also his not favorite one. (Judas.) Da Vinci includes masterful symbolism at a time when most symbolism was far more overstated, for example the repetition of 3's and 4's. 3 represents spirituality, like the Trinity, and 4 the earth, like the elements. The work has also incited plenty of conspiracy theories over its other hidden messages.

  • Michelangelo painted this super intense fresco of 'The Last Judgment' for 4 years starting in 1536 for the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. It depicts the second coming of Christ and also the final and eternal judgment by God of all mankind. Many religious people were horrified by Michelangelo's use of nude figures and genitalia, but the real question is: how did they all get so buff?

  • Jacopo Pontormo's 'The Deposition from the Cross' was made in 1528; its intense interplay of movement and weight, between the fabric's lightness and Jesus' weight, heightens the tragedy of the moment. The bold, almost neon colors and disregarding of representational space point away from the Renaissance and toward modernity, even surrealism.

  • 'The Crowning With Thorns' was made by Italian master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in 1602. This dark and captivating painting places classical realism and intense style in close proximity. He does something similar with pleasure and pain in this depiction of sadistic torture.

  • 'Christ Crucified' was made in 1632 by Diego Velazquez. Not much is known about its history, even its date is in question, but its incorporation of strong classical and baroque elements make a scene at once horrifically violent and beautifully tranquil. It creates contradictions and resolves them through its masterful form.

  • This piece, 'The Yellow Christ,' made by Paul Gauguin in 1889, was one of the key-pieces of the Symbolist movement. It abandoned realism, history and perspective in favor of swaths of acidic color and striking flatness.

  • 'Christ of Saint John on the Cross' was made by Salvador Dali in 1951. The particulars of the piece as well as the lack of usual crucifixion details like nails, blood and a crown of thorns were foregone because of a vision Dali had in a dream of the painting. He said: "In the first place, in 1950, I had a 'cosmic dream' in which I saw this image in colour and which in my dream represented the 'nucleus of the atom.' This nucleus later took on a metaphysical sense; I considered it 'the very unity of the universe,' the Christ!"


Filed by Priscilla Frank  |