Christ's Entry Into Jerusalem

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Stanley Spencer, Christ's Entry Into Jerusalem, 1920

Something about this painting is intriguing- weird and a little confusing- but intriguing. The title of the painting gives me a mental image nothing like this painting, but it's definitely an interesting interpretation of a story told throughout the ages. The painting is Spencer's interpretation of Palm Sunday type scene. The story starts with Jesus entering Jerusalem, which takes places just a few days before he was crucified. He descends from the Mount of Olives and enters Jerusalem, where people placed palms leaves at his feet as a sign of respect for the Messiah. In the story, Jesus rides on the back of a mule through crowds of people who have come to catch a glimpse of the man they have heard stories about. Within the next week of this scene, Jesus is accused of blasphemy, crucified, buried, and resurrected.

The man standing upright wearing a billowy white robe is Jesus. The layout of the painting is interesting, as it differs greatly from a traditional Palm Sunday scene. Though it appears that some people are bowing to Jesus, there are also many who have their backs turned to him, symbolizing the near future where the world turns its back on Him. The buildings and clothing are also contemporary, which became a style of choice for Spencer. The composition of the painting is interesting, as it seems that everyone but Jesus is floating. This feeling of being grounded adds to the somberness that Jesus seems to be expressing, through his tilted down head and thoughtful expression. Spencer's interpretation takes into account the events to come, and doesn't only focus on the happiness that the people felt who were getting to see their Messiah.

One of Spencer's two main styles of painting is to reconnect religious scenes to current times. This painting, like many of Spencer's others, is supposed to take place in the small English city where he grew up. This revitalization of old stories was categorized into a genre known as neoprimitivism, of which Spencer played a role in England.

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