(b. 1472, Venezia, d. 1526, Capodistria)

The Meditation on the Passion

c. 1510
Oil and tempera on wood, 70,5 x 86,7 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Carpaccio is best known for the extensive narrative cycles he painted for Venetian confraternities, but he also produced a number of individual religious works for private collectors that are distinguished for their haunting stillness and richly descriptive approach. One of the most beautiful of these paintings is this depiction of the Old Testament figure Job and of Saint Jerome as a hermit meditating on the body of the dead Christ. Inscribed in Hebrew on the marble block where Job sits are the words "I know that my redeemer liveth." Numerous details underscore the theme of death and resurrection: the bones next to Job, the crown of thorns propped up against Christ's broken throne, the small bird that flies upward from Christ to symbolize the Resurrection. Even the lavishly painted landscape carries the theme by appearing desolate on the left and lush and open on the right.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 8 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: St. Matthew Passion BWV 244 (excerpts)