Today I want to look at a painting by William Bouguereau (1825-1905) called “Compassion.” It is not merely about the death of Jesus, but our response to His death. In my view, the man is demonstrating his love for Jesus. He longs to know Christ and identify with Him in his sufferings. It reminds me of, Romans 6:3-9:
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
The man also shows the response to his love for Christ. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” This man carries his own cross in obedience and love.
It is painted with very subtle, neutral colors. The palette is tans/browns and dusty grey/blues. The Painting has a background, and a foreground (no middle ground). The Composition moves your eyes from the man’s face, up to Christ’s face, and then oval around the two figures. The use of lights and darks, brightness and contrast is very natural and creates a well balanced contrast. The brightest areas are the sky, Jesus’ shoulder, Jesus’ cloth, the horizon sky, and the feet/ground area.
By studying other paintings and techniques we challenge ourselves to become better artists for the Lord. Use your gifts for God’s glory!
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