TillbakaChildren of the light

Passion paintings

Two oil paintings on canvas, depicting scenes from the Passion of Our Lord and belonging to a sequence of seventeen Passion paintings. Reproductions of the other paintings are included in this exhibition.

The paintings have inscription ribbons in Swedish, and each picture or ribbon also includes a time indication in the form of a clock. The subjects of the paintings are the Last Supper, Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, Jesus before Caiaphas, Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus before Pilate, Jesus before Herod, Pilate washing his hands, the Scourging of Jesus, the Crowning with Thorns, Ecce homo, Jesus carrying the cross, the raising of the cross, Jesus on the cross, the descent from the Cross or Deposition of Christ and the Entombment.

The paintings are skilfully executed, and their pictorial language and the portrayal of the figures suggest that the artist worked from one of the book or graphic patterns of the time. They are vividly coloured, and although the scenes are of teeming with figures, attention is concentrated on each scene’s principal motif. The figures and the composition of the pictures suggest that the artist was working from printed originals.

These pictures were presented to Nysätra Church by Baroness Margareta Willhelmina Cederhielm in 1772. We do not know whether they were painted specifically for the church, had hung in the family residence or had been purchased in Europe. The Passion is the Bible story of the sufferings of Christ prior to his crucifixion and death. This series focuses on Jesus’ last days, from the Last Supper to his burial. The series plays an important part in Christianity as a theme for prayer and meditation, especially during Holy Week.

Passion suites are uncommon in Swedish churches, and the few originating after the Reformation were almost invariably presented by noble families living locally. There are also a few which were painted in the 20th century. The clocks in the pictures indicate the time of day at which the various events in the life of Jesus are supposed to have occurred, and they also help to systematise the pictures.