The Ascension in Art

By Amelia Hamilton Published on May 14, 2015

Forty days after Easter, the day when Jesus ascended into heaven, marks the ancient Christian Feast of the Ascension.

After Jesus’ resurrection, he spent 40 days on earth instructing his disciples on how to carry out his teachings on Earth. It is believed that, on the 40th day, he took them to the Mount of Olives to allow them to witness his ascension to heaven.

The Bible describes the event in three places:

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)

While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:51)

Until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (Acts 1:2)

A belief in the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is also professed in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed.

It is hardly surprising that such a meaningful day would have been represented in works of art throughout history. Here are a few examples.

 

Ascension of Christ and Noli me tangere, c. 400, ivory, Milan or Rome

Ascension of Christ and Noli me tangere, c. 400, ivory, Milan or Rome

 

 

Ascension in the Rabbula Gospels, 6th century.

Ascension in the Rabbula Gospels, 6th century.

 

 

Giotto, 14th century

Giotto, 14th century

 

 

Rembrandt, 1636

Rembrandt, 1636

 

 

Benjamin West 1801

Benjamin West 1801

 

These works of art show us the blessed event, and move the viewer to consider Christ’s sacrifice for us.

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