Agony in the Garden Giovanni Bellini Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Agony in the garden is a painting by Giovanni Bellini, who was an Italian Renaissance master. Giovanni Bellini painted it between 1459 and 1465. The art is currently housed in the National Gallery in London.

Agony in the garden painting by Giovanni is fundamental in understanding the relationship which existed between two brothers Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini. The picture portrays Jesus Christ kneeling on Mount Olives in prayer together with his disciples James, Peter, and John.

Details of the Painting

The painting depicts a biblical scene of Christ praying at night in the Garden of Gethsemane. While Christ is praying, all the three disciples are sleeping behind him. Also, there is Judas in the background who is leading the Roman armed forces to capture Jesus Christ.

The Roman soldiers will later arrest Christ and crucify him. Christ is aware of the looming death, and he sought the solace of the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to his father to help him. Jesus had earlier asked the disciples to pray, but they were not able to stay awake.

While still praying, God sends his angels to strengthen and comfort Jesus Christ. The angel can be seen at the top right corner of the painting. You will see an angel with a cup that symbolizes Christ’s impending sacrifice. The dawn’s soft light symbolizes the hope for salvation.

The Techniques Used

Since Mantegna strongly influenced Giovanni Bellini, most of his early work such as the Agony in the garden is the same to his brother's.

Giovanni employs the utilization of the strong contour lines as well as foreshortening of the sleeping images to practice the brother-in-law’s style of painting and eventually develop his technique. His painting style masterfully emits the overall tone and emotion of hope which cuts through the suffering that Jesus’s expression displays.

The Style of Painting

Throughout the painting life, Giovanni proved his style of painting through the use of light. He explores the beams as well as shadows in ways that provoke the two-dimensional images into the three-dimensional living figures.

The Agony in the garden painting incorporates the rising sun in the entire background that sheds light upon Jesus Christ and the sleeping disciples. In most paintings, Christ's arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane was depicted under darkness or with a glow of light. He uses light to illuminate and represent what it should do best.