Agony in the Garden

A Description by Helen Gokbudak
March 14, 2000

Description for the "Awe Inspired Neophyte" leading to "Art Motivated Novice"
This painting is a night scene showing a man kneeling in the middle of the painting. At the upper right of the painting is a young person with yellow gold hair and wings holding a gold cup and in the lower portion of the painting three men are asleep. At the middle left of the painting. there are a group of smaller men walking forward with one man leading them. The upper left portion of the painting is blackish brown, dark and somber.

The young person or angel who appears to be suspended in the air has the most vivid bright color within the painting. There is a gold shiny light surrounding the angel and the cup or chalice that the angel is holding. The brightness of this light shines on the man who is Jesus. Kneeling in the mid-center of the painting, Jesus is painted in a side view facing to the right of the picture. toward the angel. His facial features are present but can not identify if he is looking up at the angel. He has on a pinkish robe with a deeper grayish color indicated by the folds, his hands pointed down with palms extended. The brightness around him in the garden where he is kneeling accents his face, body and the rocks and plants.

The three men sleeping in the forefront of the painting have a lesser yellow-gold light shining on them. This light accentuates the folds within the robes and provides shadows for the facial features and body postures of the three. The men on the middle left side are in the background of the painting and have the least amount of light accenting them. There is a small area of brightness of yellow gold in the back of this group of men. This assists in making the helmets of the men visible, the man leading them has a hand forward and a very small lighted torch.

The major color within the painting is the yellow gold light coming from around the angel to Jesus and then filtering down to the three sleeping men and the least amount of accenting light is to the group of men to the middle left of the painting. Jesus is painted with a pinkish red robe with hands down in a posture of supplication, the three men sleeping are the disciples of Jesus Christ. They have a pinkish gray cast to their robes, the group of men with bronze colored shiny helmets have very little light. They have dark brown-black clothing with light shining from the back and with the torch The background of the painting is dark blackish, with brownish and somber grayish tones that are illuminated from the light shining around the angel.

Description for the Advanced Amateur
The artist, Francesco Bassano, has chosen a night scene with concentrated sources of light to paint the scene of "Agony in the Garden". The painting is vertical with the light coming from the upper right. It is one of nine altarpieces that was hung on the left of the choir in S. Antonia, Brescia, Italy in 1580.

The Ringling wall description states :The subject shows an angel appearing to Jesus Christ in answer to his call for divine assistance. Christ is shown accepting the chalice from the hands of the angel, while below Peter, James and John sleep unaware, and Judas approaches with the soldiers to arrest Christ.

The bible verse in Luke 22:41-44: And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, "Father if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." And there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground. The Bible Concordance lists only one reference for agony in the bible, this is in the above passage.

Francesco Bassano, the Younger, was the oldest of Jacopo Bassano's four painter sons and was trained in his father's workshop in Bassano just north of Venice between 1560-1570. His grandfather, Francesco Bassano the Elder, was also a minor artist in Bassano. His father was one of the leading Venetian artists of the 16th century. He moved from Bassano to Venice in 1579. During the next years he painted nocturnal scenes with illumination by candle, torch, flare, moon-light or divine light. He competed with Tintoretto, Veronese and Giovane and was awarded several commissions at the Doge's Palace.