Saturday, May 7, 2011

Iconography of the Resurrection – Emmaus – The Journey

Duccio, Road to Emmaus
Italian, 1300-1305
Siena, Museu dell'Opera del Duomo

“That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
(Luke 24:13-29)
Gospel for Third Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2011

This is probably one of the most mysterious of the apparitions of the Risen Jesus in the Gospels. Why did these disciples fail to recognize Jesus throughout what appears to be a long afternoon and evening, as they walk and talk, yet recognized Him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35)?

Possibly they failed to recognize Him because He no longer looked exactly like the Jesus they knew before the Crucifixion. Perhaps they didn’t really know Him all that well in the first place? Perhaps they were so wrapped up in their own gloom and distress that they simply didn’t look too closely at him? Perhaps He prevented them from recognizing Him for some greater purpose? We may never know the answer to these questions but we can imagine the scene. Artists have been imagining it too over the centuries, but have primarily chosen to focus on the moment of recognition, which occurs later in the story, when the disciples recognize the Risen Jesus “in the breaking of the bread”.

Among the images of the journey we find images over all periods starting with the Carolingian period and going on through the twentieth century.

Journey to Emmaus and Recognition of the Risen Jesus
from the Drogo Sacramentary
France(Metz), 9th Century
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9428, fol. 61v


Ivory plaque, Journey to Emmaus
France or Germany (Lotharingia), 850-900
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 9390





















Ivory Plaque, Journey to Emmaus and Recognition of the Risen Jesus
Carolingian (Northern French), c. 850-900
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection
Journey to Emmaus
from the Saint Peter Gospels
Austrian (Salzburg), 1025-1050
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M781, fol. 123r
Journey to Emmaus
from the Psalter of Christina of Markyate
(Saint Albans Psalter)
English (St. Albins), 1124
Hildesheim, Dombibliothek
Journey to Emmaus
Spanish, 1100-1150
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Journey to Emmaus and Mary Magdalene Informing the
Disciples
from the Ingeborg Psalter
French, c. 1195-1200
Chantilly, Musee Conde
MS 9, fol. 30v
Workshop of Pacino di Bonaguida, Journey to Emmaus
from Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Life
of Blessed Gerard of Villamagna

Italian, 1315-1325
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M643, fol. 15r


Clearly, the description of the journey to "a village seven miles from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:13) suggests that the event takes place in the countryside.  However, it was not until the fifteenth century that artist began to depict natural looking landscape as the background for the figures of Jesus and the two disciples.  From the fifteenth century on this became the dominant way in which this part of the story was told although it reduced the actual Biblical story to a sometimes miniscule portion of the composition.  Sometimes it is even difficult to locate the figures in the grand landscape.

Journey to Emmaus
from a Gospel Book
Italian (Padua), 1436
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M180, fol. 57r
Bartolomeo di Tommaso
Journey to Emmaus
Italian, c. 1440
Minneapolis (MN),
Minneapolis Museum of Art

























In the two images above and the two below Jesus wears gardening attire, reminding one of Mary Magdalene's lack of recognition (see Noli me tangere).

Journey to Emmaus
French, First quarter of the 16th Century
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Altobello Melone, Journey to Emmaus
Italian, c. 1516-1517
London, National Gallery





















Attributed to Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1530-1540
Private Collection
Herri met de Bles, Landscape with Christ and Disciples on the Road to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1530
Antwerp, Museum Mayer van den Bergh
Herri met de Bles, Landscape with Christ and Disciples on the Road to Emmaus
Flemish, 1535-1540
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum
Lelio Orsi, Journey to Emmaus
Italian, c. 1565-1575
London, National Gallery

Abel Grimmer, Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1600
Private Collection

Attributed to Tobias Verhaecht, Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1600
Dijon, Musee Magnin
Paul Bril, Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1600
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Paul Bril, Mountain Landscape with the Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, 1602
Glasgow, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
Cornelis van Poelenburgh, Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1637-1641
Guildford (Surrey, UK), Hatchlands

Jacques Stella, Journey to Emmaus
French, c. 1640-1650
Nantes, Musee des Beaux-Arts

























Jan Wildens, Landscape with the Journey to Emmaus
Flemish, c. 1640
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
I particularly like this vision of the journey with its rolling hills, open fields, comfortable looking cottage and the man fishing by the river who turns around to listen to the discussion between Jesus and the disciples who are, in this case, highly visible.

Salomon van Ruysdael, Landscape with Journey to Emmaus
Dutch, 1645
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
Roelant Roghman, Landscape with Journey to Emmaus
Dutch, c. 1650-1660
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
Claude Lorrain, Landscape with Journey to Emmaus
French, 1660
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
J. Myts, River Landscape with Christ on the Road to Emmaus
Dutch, 1664
Portadown (NI), Ardress House
Andrea Locatelli. Journey to Emmaus
Italian, Second Quarter of the 18th Century
Toulouse, Musee des Augustins
Felix Hippolyte Lanque, Christ on the Road to Emmaus
French, c. 1850
Autun, Musee Rolin
In the nineteenth century artists once again began to narrow their perspective for the journey to Emmaus to once again focus more closely on the figures of Jesus and the disciples and on their interactions.

John Linnell, Journey to Emmaus
English, 1835
Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
James Tissot, Pilgrims on the Emmaus Road
French, 1886-1894
New York, Brooklyn Museum

Auguste Rousselin, Journey to Emmaus
French, 1889
Macon, Musee des Ursulines
Paul Alexandre Leroy, The Disciples Urge Jesus to Stay
French, 1927
Sketch for Salon painting of 1927
Autun, Musee Rolin




























More to follow.


© M. Duffy, 2011 with 2017 revisions