Breaking Down Art History: Holy Hands and Feet

The Foreshortened Christ by Andrea Mantegna features exactly the title of the painting: a foreshortened Christ. Christ lays with a cloth draped over him with the holes in his hands and feet exposed as his mother and Saint John. The painting is enveloped with dread and sadness as we watch the Virgin Mary mourn the death of her son. However, though an emotional painting, there seems to be a lot wrong with it compositionally. Christ’s feet are much smaller than what is proportionally correct – but Mantegna did this on purpose as he knew the feet would cover much of his body, and he wanted to show viewers the entire thing.

Like may representations of Christ, there are holes in his hands from where he was positioned on the cross. However, this would not work in practice. The bones in our hands are not strong enough to hold us up, even with nails in them. It would most likely be that Christ was probably nailed in his wrists, as that would hold him up better than having nails in his hands.

Credit: KLEINER, F. R. E. D. S. (n.d.). Gardner’s Art through the ages: A concise global history. CENGAGE LEARNING.

Published by Elizabeth Hawkins

Fine Arts and ECM Major Creative Writing Minor Artist, Friend, Gamer, Island Wanderer, Shark Enthusiast. Protect Our Oceans.

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