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Resurrection of Christ, about 1700



Noël Coypel
Resurrection of Christ, about 1700
French, 1628–1707
oil on canvas
37 x 29.5 inches (93.98 x 74.93 cm)
Gift of Mrs. J. C. Bowes
1957.062

This painting is probably a modello, or small-scale version, of a large Resurrection commissioned for the Dominican Convent in Rennes, France, in 1700. In his interpretation of the story, Noël Coypel referred to Saint Matthew’s Gospel (28:1–18). The apostle described how three days after the Crucifixion, during an earthquake, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary arrived at Jesus’ tomb, where they found an angel sitting on the stone that had been rolled away from the entrance to the cave. While the Roman guards trembled with fear, the angel told the women that Jesus had risen.

In the painting, the Romans and the women, in the left and right foreground, form the wide base of a triangle that is topped by Jesus’ heroically nude figure. Holding the triumphant banner of the Resurrection, Jesus floats toward heaven surrounded by supernatural light. Coypel dramatized the extraordinary quality of this miraculous moment by contrasting the different emotions of his characters through their gestures and expressions, by carefully rendering attributes such as shields, helmets, and robes, by including fabrics of such unusual colors as yellow and pink, and by using extremes of light and dark to suggest the awesome sight of this supernatural event.