Passion of the Christ: Paintings by Jules-Claude Ziegler

Scene from Passion of Christ
Scene from Passion of Christ
Scene from The Passion of Christ, 1842-48
Jules-Claude Ziegler
Lent by Mr. and Mrs. John Fisher
A special exhibition demonstrating exceptional religious conviction dating from the second quarter of the nineteenth century will be installed in the Brown Study Room from March 24 until August 27. The opening of the exhibition coincides with the last weeks of Lent, the period in the Christian calendar leading up to Easter.

The twelve paintings were made in Paris as a series between the years 1842 and 1848 by painter Jules-Claude Ziegler (1804-1856). The Passion of Christ is a sequential series based on descriptions in the Bible of the events leading up to the death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Most of Ziegler’s work was done in Paris, although he was often inspired by his travels to Italy, Germany, and Belgium. He studied under the dominant artist of his time, Jean-August-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867) and also François-Joseph Heim (1787 – 1865), both great realist painters of the early 19 th century. By showcasing his remarkable talent for religious painting, he was established as a painter of history in the Salons of Paris by 1833.

These successes enhanced the popularity of his highly detailed style. In 1835 he began an ambitious project to produce a fresco painting in the cupola of the choir at L’eglise de la Madeleine, one of Paris’ most important churches. A History of Christianity was completed in 1838 and Ziegler’s reputation as an accomplished artist in the historical genre was established.

Ziegler’s realism and dramatic flair is abundant in the choreographed compositions of The Passion of Christ . Figures and scenery are arranged as if the canvas were to take on the identity of a theatrical stage, and this technique lends itself to the expression of movement and action; the shouts of the crowd surrounding the crucified Christ are nearly audible thanks to Ziegler’s care and dedication to graphic detail.

The paintings are lent to the BSUMA by Mr. and Mrs. John Fisher, who have generously lent them for public exhibition as a whole series before presenting them to the High Street Methodist Church in Muncie. The Museum is grateful to the Fishers for bringing work of this quality to the broader community in East Central Indiana.

Exhibition Date: Spring 2006