Christ in Majesty

Christ in Majesty is one of the world masterpieces wall painting art during Romanesque period. It is a part of the large painting decorated the inside wall of apse at San Climent church, located in Barcelona, Spain. An unknown artist painted it in 1123 CE by using fresco technique (a painting with mixed color and wet plaster on a wall) to create this painting to make it stays lasting. This painting represents Jesus Christ as a ruler of the universe and tries to show his majesty.

It may be used in the term of propaganda; for make people to believe in religion and power of Jesus Christ.

According to its ages some parts of the painting were destroyed. By observing the Christ in Majesty fresco. Most of the forms are round and curvy to make it looks more smooth, calm and grand. The huge flat oval shape in the center at the back of the Christ figure could be a bench, its may represents the sun god, oval is a shape of egg which is a symbol of giving birth or life and it also relates to the idea that Jesus Christ brings people together.

Around the oval shape there is a border with Romanesque style decoration and an arch lay across the lower part of the oval shape.

Christ figure is carefully painted in the center of wall painting. The artist made Christ figure a bit overlaps the oval shape and made his feet rest on semicircle, which symbolize the earth.

The Christ figure’s face is oval shape, painted in illustration style (look more like animation than realistic) and framed his face with his long hair. His eyes look serious, seem like he’s staring at us. The halo around his head shows his genius, powerful, and tells that he relates to god. His right hand rises in blessing, while his left hand holds a book with Latin “ego sum lux mundi” which means, “I am the light od the world”.

The figure is sitting on the arch. The Christ wears a robe with a big shawl. On the robe there are repetition of small circles, which create a pattern of textile. At the edge of shawl there is a strip with a set of geometric shapes decorated. The artist gave much attention to his costume; the folds of shawl and robe give these painting a sense of movement, feeling of realism and make it looks more dimensional. There are two Greek alphabets on either side of the Christ; right side is “Alpha” the first letter of Greek alphabet and on his left side is “Omega” the last letter of Greek alphabet.

This mean “Beginning and Ending” There are four evangelists surround the Christ figure but in different size from him, that show hierarchy. Two of them are standing beside the Christ and the other two are in the smaller circles on either near his feet. Beside these two angles there are mythological creatures. Looking to the lower part of the wall there are a long thin window with a curved top in the middle down from the semicircle shape. There are five arches placed on column divided in to two arches on the right side and three on the left side.

Specific Saints figures are painted in each arch. The faces are similar to the Christ face but different in costume and hairstyle. Between each arch there is a set of squares arranged in order as brick pattern. According to Christ in Majesty fresco, many of the decorative details are line. Curved line, wavy line and straight line are mostly used. In part of the background there are three thick lines placed horizontally across the painting. These may be the artist’s intention to illustrate the layers of atmosphere that separates the earth and heaven.

There are wavy lines at the edges of the robe and shawl. The artist also used line to create the folds of clothes to make them look more smooth, soft and more realistic. At the arch that Christ sits, there is the using of lines to create a pattern as same as the border of the oval shape. Down below to the semicircle, tiny lines swirl as a pattern represent the confusion in the world. Beneath this semicircle there is a back line with Latin words written on a pair of thinner lines parallel to it.

In this art piece the arches of five saints are decorate with three parallel-curved line along each arch. The columns that hold each arch are decorated with wavy lines. Refers to the Christ in Majesty. This wall painting was painted with brilliant colors. The Jesus Christ’s skin is painted in neutral skin tone but look more glow than other figures’ skin. His hair is black, he wears a white robe with red spots pattern but it looks grayish because the artist added different tones of gray to create the value of the cloth.

Navy blue shawl with red geometric forms decoration was covered on top of gray robe. This represents his authority, matureness, and judgment. In Christian meaning; blue symbolizes the heavenly kingdom, knowledge, truth and authority. All of the haloes are colored in white that mean purity and knowledge. Most of top part of painting was painted in navy blue, which shows the power of Christ, how strong he is, leadership and could be relate to heaven. The three strips behind the huge blue oval were painted in different color in order of black, yellow and blue.

The big oval shape in the center is blue with yellow border between parallel red lines. The arch that the Christ sits on was painted as same as the border but it has more detail with brown color. All four angels wear similar clothes but they have different wing’s color red, yellow and green. The wing’s color may be depended on their roles. The semicircle beneath Christ’s feet is grayish with black swirling lines. The black strip with white Latin word written on it that lies across the painting might be the thin line that separated heaven and earth.

In the lower part of this wall painting is mostly colored in red. Red refers to sin, love, life, death, and the earth. (Charlotte J. 2012). By looking at this part of painting there are five saints wearing similar clothes to the Christ but different in colors. The costumes of these five saints are combined of white, blue and red. And at the background there are two strips also colored in red and blue, which tells that all of them relate to heaven and earth or in other way they are representative of human that connected heaven and earth together.

In term of composition, the way that the artist has arranged all figures has meaning. The Christ was painted in the center is for emphasizing his power and leadership. The different in scale of figure is to show hierarchy. In conclusion, unknown artist painted Christ in Majesty in 1123 CE during Romanesque period. It’s a world famous Fresco painting, decorating the apse wall at San Climent in Barcelona, Spain. The purpose of the artist is to make propaganda, make people believe in Christ’s majesty.