Kiss of Judas

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Giotto, Kiss of Judas, 1306

“While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”- Luke 22:47-48



Anger, frustration, betrayal, and chaos. Among the turbulent scene, two figures seem isolated and oblivious from the rest. The weapons that penetrate that background don't seem to faze them as they share an intimate moment. Giotto's The Arrest of Christ or better known as Kiss of Judas memorializes the great betrayal of Jesus by one of hisdisciples. Giotto paints the fresco with a depiction so clear that the viewer feels the moment unfold before them. The scene show us that Judas hasn't even been given the opportunity to kiss Christ yet. There is a clear relation to the doctrine of the gospel in the fact that people must connect on a personal level to Christ, opposed to have someone feed them religion.

The fresco has an action rarely seen in Giotto's works. The figures appear ready to jump from the wall at any given moment. Jesus, already aware of Judas' intentions, receives his betrayer with open arms. Giotto places Jesus and Judas in the center as the focal point by creating a space where they can be enclosed  He sets up the two characters to appear as far in the mob as possible, which heightens the pair's isolation. Jesus’ faces is highlighted by the stark colors of the helmets and robes that surround him.

While looking at the scene as a whole, one feels overwhelmed by the mob and the energy that they bring with them. Giotto captures a time of extreme confusion; however he also shows the viewer a complete different side - Jesus quietly forgiving his betrayer, which gives us a feeling of peace. People who view the fresco all know how the story ends, but Giotto gives them a picture that makes the words come to life.


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