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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Arrest of Jesus” by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion

"Arrest of Jesus" by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion

“Arrest of Jesus” by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion

“Arrest of Jesus” by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion depicts a pivotal event in Christianity. Jesus was arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane. It occurred shortly after the Last Supper, and immediately after the kiss of Judas, which was an act of betrayal. The event ultimately led, in the Gospel accounts, to Jesus’ crucifixion.

This painting was created as part of the “Karlsruhe Passion” which was an altarpiece painting on panel showing the Passion of Christ painted for the Saint Thomas Church in Strasbourg around 1450 and split up during the Reformation. From 1858 most of the panels were gathered back together in Strasbourg, which eventually resulting in six of the panels now being housed and exhibited in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, an art museum in Karlsruhe, Germany. However, this one is displayed in the Wallraf–Richartz Museum in Cologne.

This panel shows the artist’s extraordinary narrative and unique visual language. Created during a period when the majority of the population could not read, the cast of characters in this depiction would have had a significant influence on the worshipers. The panels’ narrative qualities were highly influential in the development of painting in the region.

Master of the Karlsruhe Passion

The Master of the Karlsruhe Passion is an invented name given to an artist whose identity has been lost. He was a German painter of the late Gothic period active in the Upper Rhine. Hugely influential on other painters in the region. He is named after his main work, the Karlsruhe Passion.

The Karlsruhe Passion

The Karlsruhe Passion is an altarpiece painting on panel showing the Passion of Christ. In Christianity, the Passion is the short final period in the life of Jesus beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending with his crucifixion and his death on Good Friday.

Each panel is 46 cm wide and 67 cm high, but their original layout is now unknown. The surviving panels include the following depictions:

  • Prayer on the Mount of Olivers
  • Arrest of Jesus
  • Flagellation
  • Crowning with Thorns
  • Carrying the Cross
  • Disrobing
  • Nailing to the Cross

Notname

A “Notname” is an invented name given to an artist whose identity has been lost. The practice arose from the need to provide such artists and their typically untitled works, an acceptable grouping to avoiding confusion when cataloging. The provisional name or names of convenience are sometimes used to describe anonymous masters.

The practice of using generic names for unidentified artists is most common in the study of the art of the antiquity, especially of the Roman era or with artists of the Northern Renaissance until about 1430. Typically a pseudonym is applied after commonality is established for a grouping of works. A similarity of theme, style, iconography, biblical source, or physical location can probably be attributed to one individual or workshop. Unfortunately, because of a lack of surviving documentary record, the name of that individual is lost.

In the case of 14th and early 15th-century Netherlandish, French and German painters and illuminators, the problem is particularly acute. The challenge was because the practice was for artists to not sign or date their works until the 1420s, and the inventories of collectors were uninterested in the artist’s names.

Reflections

  • Created when most people could not read, what was the visual message of this altarpiece?

Arrest of Jesus

  • Title:              Arrest of Jesus
  • Alternative:   Capture of Jesus Christ
  • Artist:            Master of the Karlsruhe Passion
  • Date:             1450
  • Medium:       Mixed technique on walnut
  • Dimensions: Height: 66.2 cm (26 ″); Width: 46.2 cm (18.1 ″)
  • Museum:      Wallraf–Richartz Museum

Master of the Karlsruhe Passion

  • Artist:               Master of the Karlsruhe Passion – an invented name given to an artist whose identity has been lost
  • Nationality:      German
  • Period:             Late Gothic period
  • Notable Works:

Explore Germany’s Museums

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German Proverbs and Quotes

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“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone,
but also on trees,
and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

– Martin Luther

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Photo Credit: 1)Meister der Karlsruher Passion [Public domain]

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