Manet's etching strikes as strange but fascinating. The image is only loosely related to the Scripture text, and as representation of Christ's resurrection not a common painterly motif. It shows the Resurrected between two angels. The French title is a play on words. To be aux anges means to be in bliss. The athletic body of Christ is comfortably reclined and resting.
The strife is over, he has reconquered the light. His powerful hands and feet bear the marks of . the Passion but the overall posture suggests tranquil contentment. He is now in the care of the two angels, two beautiful creatures, holding, bemoaning and pampering the victorious hero.
The message is somewhat ambiguous. Are we looking at a salon version of Mantegna's Risen Christ, the artistic craving of breaking out of set patterns, or simply at a new and humorous way to apply the famous theme of "le repos du guerrier" to the victorious Christ? In spite of these ambiguities, one is moved by the strength and peace which irradiate the body of Christ and its' surroundings. His eyes and face, slightly leaning back and in darkness, are looking beyond the present moment of bliss into future eons and new challenges. This etching is a slightly reworked version of a painting now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Manteuffel).
Related scripture reading: John 20: 11-12
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