Wednesday, May 08, 2013

"Job" by Léon Bonnat, c. 1860

We treated the book of Job in OT-513 today. One powerful image of Job's agony that we looked at was Job by Léon Bonnat, c. 1860. 

Bonnat's figure of Job reveals a nude, older, fully vulnerable figure, who is here reduced to pure frailty. The realistic sinews and muscles, the feel of beatings by life's tempests, make the figure convincing and relatable. The figure is clearly oriented toward God in a posture and attitude of pain and questioning. Bonnat, an eminent 19th century French artist, was a painter of powerful portraits, and, as with those works, this piece isolates the subject with vivid lighting and a simple, dark background. The viewer is invited powerfully to concentrate on the figure in all his suffering humanity and to wrestle with the fundamental question of what it means to be mortal, created of dust, and thus vulnerable.


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