–An even better image of this artist’s portrayal is at:
(This portrayal is by Giotto, a famous artist of the Italian Renaissance.)
The artist has placed Jesus in the centre of the composition with the disciples on the left and the crowd flowing out of the city of Jerusalem on the right. In the brilliant blue sky behind him two eager people from the crowd sway in the trees picking branches to honour him, while one man rolls out his cloak in a gesture suitable only for royalty. The artist has included all the key elements of the Matthew narrative including not only the donkey, but also the colt. The other gospels, Mark 11:1-11 and Luke 19:28-41, mention only a colt, and add ‘which no one has ever ridden.’ John 12:12-19 says merely that Jesus found a young donkey.
The disciples appear to be jammed together on the left hand side of the painting and we can only clearly see the faces of four of them. The rest of the twelve are suggested by the tops of their heads and a swath of rich golden halos. They stand behind Jesus, stock still, shoulder to shoulder, forming a tight mass. They are alert, sober, and they are watching the crowd carefully and cautiously. And, well they might. They have heard from Jesus three times that he would be arrested and killed in Jerusalem. They are no doubt afraid for him as well as for themselves. What lies ahead is unknown. This outburst of praise and shouting was no doubt both hopeful and unsettling for them.
The welcoming crowd positioned on the right is quite different. It includes both men and women, there is space around them and we can see each person and each face clearly. Luke 19:37 gives us more information about the crowd. It states they ‘began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.’ The John passage, 12:17-18, further elaborates: ‘Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.’
—CONTINUED IN NEXT POST HERE
(Together they were larger than the allowed size here)