Museums and Art

“Prayer for salvation”, Juan de Juanes - description of the painting

“Prayer for salvation”, Juan de Juanes - description of the painting

The prayer for salvation is Juan de Juanes. 1562

This picture - a complex multi-figure composition of religious content - can tell a lot about the artist’s work and skill. Not lingering on the description of the sad funeral plot, it is worth paying special attention to the picturesque and emotional virtues of the picture.

In the foreground of the canvas is a light object resembling a coffin or a stone base in which crying people put a richly dressed man with a tonus on his head. One of the people around him - a middle-aged man in olive clothes with a hood - carefully peers at the lying man. Spectators notice that the man has a broken head - thin streams of blood flow through his temples, forehead and neck.

After that, it becomes clear that the artist captured a moment from the Bible - the consequences of stoning Stephen the First Martyr, so punished for preaching Christianity in Jerusalem.

The fact that Stefan is depicted is indicated by his attire of the deacon, which is almost exactly reproduced in the painting written in 1562 - “The Execution of Stephen”. According to legend, a saint with a broken stone head, dying, prayed for his killers and humbly asked Jesus Christ to accept his spirit. Upon the death of Stephen, “great weeping” arose, since the first Christians loved and honored the righteous. This moment was captured by the artist.

Despite the gloomy plot, the picture is replete with bright, rich colors. Incredibly beautiful is the church robe of Stephen himself, as well as the clothes of the people around him. Olive, green and golden, as well as scarlet and ocher colors predominate in the color scheme.

In the background of the picture are visible the ruins of the city, depicted in three different planes. At the closest to the viewer you can see a part of the cliff covered with grass, the next plan is a ruined building with reddish stone, then a ruined city drowning in a greenish haze against the backdrop of the mountain.

An interesting point is the presence on the canvas of an image of a man dressed quite differently from the rest of the characters. He is in black clothes with a modest white collar, does not sob like everyone else, and his gaze betrays his belonging to another era. Most likely this is a self-portrait of the artist.