Behold the Lamb of God, 1993
Oil on canvas, 54 x 36
This crucifixion began as an intensely personal attempt by the artist to more fully comprehend the propitiatory nature of Christ’s sacrifice. “Jesus looks at the viewer just before He takes upon Himself the sin of the world and actually suffers separation from the Father in our place,” says Gjertson. “Modern biblical, historical and medical scholarship has provided us with more information concerning some of the historical details surrounding the event than was available to artists of the past.”
For his image, Gjertson rejected some of the mysticism and idealism inherent in much Italian and French art in favor of a more literal representation closer to that of some German artists, such as Mathis Grünewald. The image went through many stages as the artist developed his drawings in consultation with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner in Saint Paul, an expert on medical aspects of the crucifixion. Nevertheless, as a matter of taste, Gjertson chose to suggest, rather than to portray literally, the actual physical horror of the event, since the body of Christ was most likely disfigured beyond recognition.
The simple tabernacle frame was designed by the artist to celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Wheat is a symbol Christ used when alluding to His resurrection. The lion’s head symbolizes His lordship as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The Alpha and Omega represent Him as the First and the Last, the originating cause of the world and the One who brings to completion at the end of the age.
Behold the Lamb of God, 1991
Black and white pencil on paper, 28 3/3 x 18 1/4
This is one of many drawings that the artist did in preparation for Behold the Lamb of God.
Behold the Lamb of God, 1992
Pencil, 50 x 34 1/2
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