Agnes Dei (1635-40)
Fransisco de Zurbaran
A new spring lamb with its feet trussed is up for the slaughter. Agnes Dei or “Lamb of God” is a powerful reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity. The composition is austere, aided by the single source of light and deep chiaroscuro (contrast between light and dark), evoking a sense of spiritual piety
I received this painting in my inbox today and sat looking at it for a few minutes thinking about Jesus the perfect Lanb of God slain before the foundations of the earth.
The Renaissance masters made scriptural truths come alive with the stroke of their brushes.These religious paintings were all the more meaningful and significant in that day and age as the Bible was virtually inaccessible to the laity , the clergy being its tenacious custodians.
Latin was the language of Catholic Christianity and the common man bowed his head before it, worshipping God with words they barely could understand.
Now , if I was living in the Renaissance period , dwelling in small hamlet in Europe and one day had an opportunity to see this masterpiece in an imposing cathedral in a city- what would this painting do to me?
I would probably know Agnes Dei from the Gregorian Chant
sung by a monastic choir in the parish church.
I would turn to the painting with that music throbbing in my heart.
Look at the lamb, spotless, unblemished, perfect.
Lying in peaceful submission on the altar of its sacrifice. Its legs trussed up. It is not struggling or bleating or pleading for mercy.
And I would recall the words of Jesus uttered in the Garden of Gethsemane, His last resting place before his journey towards the cross.
Matthew 26;39 NASB (BIBLE)
Listen to a monastic choir sing
the Agnus Dei from the Gregorian Chant