CSONTVÁRY KOSZTKA, Tivadar
(b. 1853, Kisszeben, d. 1919, Budapest)

Praying Saviour

1903
Oil on canvas, 100 x 82 cm
Janus Pannonius Múzeum, Pécs

The angular figure of the Saviour is standing in the middle isolated from everything and everybody. He is raising up his hands as if praying or preaching. The group of the twelve apostles are looking out of the picture. Dr. Rezsõ Pertorini, author of the Csontváry pathogaph, grouped them as people shouting, "Crucify him," as if they were a choir in a Greek tragedy. Faces are suggestive, those of the Saviour and Moses are expressive.

The picture condenses events. Moses is standing with stone tablets on the left. The silhouette of a town can be seen in the background, it is Jerusalem. On the right, there is a slim tree with a block of stone at its foot with two black figures tumbling on it. Behind the tree, there is a modern church which is lit: it can be approached on a steep slope. Next to it, there are three columns with winged sculptures and a domed building on the left. A group of people are approaching the church. The picture has a complicated and symbolic message, in fact, the painter attempted to sum up the history of christianity. He portrayed the Old Testament on the left and the New Testament on the right: the former being represented by Moses and the tables of the Testament, and the New Testament by Jesus' sermon, payer, and desciples, the tree symbolizing the cross, and the mourners with a stone suggesting a grave.

There are symbolic objects and scenes on both sides. The background stretches out to the distance. Thus, the painter emphasizes the main characters. The composition is balanced. The connection between time and space, and the suggestivity of tools with expressive power are in harmony with one another.