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Risurrezione Grunewald

Matthias Grűnewald (Wűrzburg, around 1475 – Halle, 1528), The Resurrection, 1512/16, oil on panel, 269 cm x 143 cm, Colmar, Unterlinden Museum

This large panel is part of a monumental polyptych, commissioned in 1512 to Matthias Grünewald by the Sicilian prior Guido Guersi, for the altar of the church of the Monastery of Sant'Antonio Abate under the mountain, known as the Grand Ballon d'Alsace, just outside the village of Issenheim.

The scene of the resurrection is part of the second facade of the polyptych, which can be seen by opening the outer compartments: the central panel represents the birth of Jesus, the left panel the annunciation and, finally, the right one represents the resurrection.

We are faced with a very particular representation of the great mystery.

In the middle of the night, where only the stars can tenuously break the dense darkness, a sun, that seems to become a great halo that circumscribes the Risen One, shines forth. Jesus has the evident wounds of the Passion, but He is alive! The soldiers, struck by the light, fall to the ground, perhaps because of the fear, and turn their gaze to it: they cannot withstand the upheaval of which they have been silent and helpless spectators.

The sarcophagus is open and from it suddenly rose the Risen One: to underline the extraordinary nature of the event, the painter wanted to show us a body with incorrect proportions, with very accentuated articulations, as to make it evident to our gaze that the one we are contemplating no longer belongs to humanity.

Jesus is wrapped in a wide shroud: it is no longer a funeral sheet, but it outlines the ascending movement that is underlined by the change of colour: it is white, dark blue, red and eventually gold.

Let us take a final look at the pierced man, who is no longer on the cross, but living and risen. He shows himself to us in this frontal posture. Let us allow ourselves to be enveloped by the light that emanates from the great table of Grünewald, and let u fix our eyes on Jesus, the rising sun that “shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Lk 1:79).

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