Isenheim altarpiece

Good Friday

O, my black soul, now thou art summoned By sickness, Death’s herald and champion ; Thou’rt like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done Treason, and durst not turn to whence he’s fled ; Or like a thief, which till death’s doom be read, Wisheth himself deliver’d from prison, But damn’d and haled to execution, Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned. Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack ; But who shall give thee that grace to begin ?
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He Is Risen

All our worship, through every season of our lives, is one unbroken celebration of this day. Easter is the ground of our hope, the pasch on which all else rests. Today we exult in the promise at the heart of the Christian mystery: a declaration that death does not have the last word. This is not a day for art history. We can circle back to that another time. Still, this painting on a reverse panel of Grünewald’s Isenheim altarpiece, is like none other. Continue Reading
A Glad Easter

THE RESURRECTION, from Matthias Grünwald’s Isenheim altarpiece, is the single most striking image of the event on which Christianity is founded. It dramatizes the center of the Christian mystery—and, correspondingly, the mystery of man. Neil MacGregor—art historian, director of the British Museum, and man of faith—responds to drama of the painting in his Seeing Salvation. (Published by Yale University Press, the book accompanied his 2000 television series by the same name.)  Standing in front of the altar, he says this:
Grünwald shows us what, according to the Gospels, nobody saw.
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