Incredulity of St.Thomas

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  • Oil on canvas, 1600
  • 230 x 175 cm
  • Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

According to St John's Gospel, the Apostle Thomas missed one of Christ's appearances to the Apostles after His resurrection. When told by the other apostles that Jesus had risen, Thomas promptly announced that, unless he could thrust his hand into Christ's side, he would not believe what he had been told. A week later Christ appeared, asked Thomas to reach out his hands to touch Him and said, 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'

This drama of disbelief seems to have touched Caravaggio personally. Few of his paintings are physically so shocking. This Thomas pushes curiosity to its limits before he will say, 'My Lord and my God.' The classical composition carefully unites the four heads in the quest for truth. Christ's head is largely in shadow, as He is the person who is the least knowable. He also has a beauty that had not been evident in Carravagio's painting of His arrest and appearance at Emmaus.

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