The Agony in the Garden
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Carle Vanloo
French, about 1760
Pen and brown ink, brown and gray wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk

18 1/8 x 13 1/16 in.

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This drawing illustrates Christ's agony, as recounted in the Gospel of Saint Luke: "He himself withdrew from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and began to pray: 'Father, if it be thy will, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but thine be done.' And now there appeared to him an angel from heaven bringing him strength, and in anguish of spirit he prayed the more urgently; and his sweat was like clots of blood falling to the ground."

Angels descend from the heavens to surround and support the agonized Christ in the moments preceding his arrest. One offers Jesus the cup that symbolizes his acceptance of death on the cross. A powerful, iridescent light floods his body from the heavens above, imbuing the scene with a transparent glow.

The elaborate finish and large size of this drawing suggest that Carle Vanloo intended it as an independent work of art. Although there is no trace of a connected painting, it may have been presented to a patron for approval of a commission.