Great Hours of Anne of Brittany

Great Hours of Anne of Brittany Judas’s kiss, f. 227v

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Judas’s kiss, f. 227v

Judas’ kiss is another of the spectacular night scenes in the Great Hours of Anne of Brittany. Beneath a star-studded sky in which even the moon can be seen, the lamps and torches carried by soldiers illuminate the tragic scene of Christ’s arrest. The masterly play of light and shadow that contrast sharply, particularly in the foreground, contributes to the drama of the scene.
Judas, with his bag of thirty pieces of silver in his left hand, kisses a calm, resigned Christ to show the soldiers whom to arrest. Peter, on the left, replaces his sword in its sheath after cutting off Malchus’s ear. The latter, the high priest’s attendant, can be seen fainted in the foreground. The earliest images of this secondary scene of the Passion date from c. 800 and show Christ being kissed by Judas and holding his hand out to stop Peter from attacking Malchus. This image gradually developed and sometimes even showed Christ dressing Malchus’s wound, a scene that became very commonplace in Gothic art. The city of Jerusalem can be seen in the background where the building with its centralised layout representing the Temple of Solomon stands out as in the Crucifixion scene (f. 47v).
Christ’s face expresses goodness, pardon and the serious and lucid acceptance of everything in the Scriptures to perfection.

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