The Passion 

– A Journey with Art


These five paintings can be used individually on separate days, or over a single time of meditation. 


Use these paintings to help yourself be drawn more deeply into pondering Jesus' ministry and the events of Holy Week.


Start by taking a few minutes to be quiet. Let your pulse settle and take a few breaths. Get comfortable. Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you. Perhaps you will want to read some or all of the Passion account in Matthew, chapters 26-27 as you spend time with the artwork. 


Listen and think deeply about ways that God might be touching your heart through this artwork.


 Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you spend time thinking about God and his Kingdom in this exercise.

Ponder This:


•Notice the different ways these moments in Christ’s life are portrayed by these different artists. 


•Two of the paintings show Christ’s followers.  Notice their body postures, facial expressions. 


•How are these different paintings with their very different styles, able to draw you into meditating on Christ's love, and his suffering and death, and his beloved-ness, not only to us, but to so many followers during his lifetime and in the two millennium since he ascended?


Consider writing down any insights that you have. 


Close with prayer, asking God to guide you and help you to rest in His love.

Mary Anoints Jesus

About the Painting: This picture is from a 1684 Arabic manuscript of the Gospels, most likely copied by a Coptic Monk and made with ink and pigments. The accompanying poem by Christian poet Malcolm Guite, speaks of Mary’s gratitude and love for all that Jesus did for her and her family, and how her anointing of Jesus foreshadows not only his suffering and death; but also, the gratefulness that all of us feel for Christ’s sacrificial love. As we think about Mary’s anointing of Christ, we may be able to feel deeper gratitude ourselves.

The Anointing at Bethany

Malcolm Guite

Come close with Mary, Martha, Lazarus

So close the candles flare with their soft breath,

And kindle heart and soul to flame within us

Lit by these mysteries of life and death.

For beauty now begins the final movement,

In quietness and intimate encounter,

The alabaster jar of precious ointment

Is broken open for the world’s true lover.

The whole room richly fills to feast the senses

With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,

The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,

Here at the very centre of all things,

Here at the meeting place of love and loss

We all foresee and see beyond the cross.

Click here to view the painting.



Christ Before the High Priest. Matthias Stom[er]. 1633, (Dutch, ca. 1600–after 1652), Oil on canvas.


About the Painting: This painting is part of the permanent collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. As Caiaphas (the high priest) accuses Christ of blasphemy, the lighting and composition of this painting amplifies the intensity of their confrontation. Matthias Stom is one of a number of northern European artists who traveled to Italy and were so deeply influenced by the painter Caravaggio’s revolutionary work that they became known as “Caravaggisti” (or followers of Caravaggio). Here, Stom employed Caravaggio’s style: he heightened the emotional intensity of his painting by setting it in a darkened room lit only by candlelight; he further located the action in the foreground of the painting, a device meant to directly engage the viewer. (Text taken from Milwaukee Art Museum website


Click here to view the painting. 




Head of Christ (Passion). Georges Rouault. 1937, Oil on paper.


About the Painting: Artist Georges Rouault's[1871-1958] ( later work was informed by his rediscovered/or newly realized Christian faith. He may be considered one of the most passionate Christian artists of the 20th century.

Click here to view the painting. 





The Crucifixion. Georges Rouault. 1936. Aquatint, roulette, and drypoint.


About the Painting: One commentator says about Rouault's Crucifixion, "in this lucid image John and the two Marys no longer cry out, rather they seem to be worshiping-they kneel or look up at the drama unfolding. And typically, the hope they feel is reflected in the orange-yellow sky behind the cross." (Image Journal, William Dyrness, Issue 67)

Click here to view the painting.



Lamentation. Scenes from the Life of Christ. Giotto. 1304-1306


About the Painting: This fresco, part of a cycle painted by Giotto, is in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. The chapel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this fresco, we are witnesses to the grief of Christ's mother, his disciples (both male and female) and the weeping of the very angels.

Click here to view the painting.