Sadness lends itself well to understatement, and understatement works well in portraiture. This portrait by Hilary Holmes has no pout, no signature wrinkles, and only one feature that is not neutral—the two, slightly bent eyebrows. The artist said he perceived an expression of "noble melancholy" after the sitter lost a close friend.
In Caravaggio's interpretation, the response of Christ to his betrayal is sadness. His passive acceptance of his arrest and downward gaze lead us to see resignation in his face as well. Deep shadows filling his eye sockets make more emphatic the angular direction of the brows above; horizontal frontalis creases appear across his middle brow (A). The expression of Judas, giving the kiss, is harder to read; his brow and forehead suggest fear—his eyes do not.
Was this article helpful?