The Agony in the Garden

Object Details

Title:

The Agony in the Garden

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Byzantine

Date:

early 13th century - late 13th century

Medium:

Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 20.6 x 14.9 cm (8 1/8 x 5 7/8 in.)

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Placed within the Gospel of Matthew, the full-page miniature of the Agony in the Garden represents one of the more powerfully emotional moments in Jesus' Passion. After the Passover meal, Jesus and his apostles retire to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus foretells Saint Peter's betrayal. Jesus then asks his closest disciples to stay awake with him, but later, while he prays, the apostles fall asleep.

The artist represents Jesus twice in the miniature: once confronting Peter at the bottom of the image and then praying above. Jesus' feelings of isolation and abandonment as he prays are expressed visually by his physical separation not only from the apostles but also from the angel shown behind him. Against the hilly landscape, the apostles huddle together in their sleep, their bodies forming a mound almost as large as the mountain itself. The crisp folds of their garments are made of embedded geometric forms that echo the shape of the rocks at the top of the mountain.