This painting by Giotto depicts the miracle Jesus performs at the
Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Jesus and his mother are attending a wedding
where the wine runs out. Jesus orders the servants to fill six stone jars
with water and then to find the chief steward. When the chief steward tastes
the water, he is astonished to find it was wine of the finest quality.
This is the first of Jesus' "signs" performed in the Gospel of John. This
painting makes use of John's passage by depicting the crowd at the wedding
gathered around a table, while the steward drinks the wine. He obviously
relishes the delicious taste of the wine and is a connoisseur of sorts,
evident by his large protruding stomach.
Healing of the Man Born Blind
This story comes from the Gospel of John 9:1-41, where Jesus comes across
a man who has been born without sight. When his disciples question whether
the man himself or his parents are to blame for his condition, Jesus responds,
"Neither, he was born blind so that God's works may be revealed to him"
(9:3). El Greco makes use of John's narrative by portraying Jesus
in the act of performing the miracle, the critical moment when Jesus applies
mud to the man's eye. It is not obvious in this depiction, however, that
Jesus has used spit to cure the man's blindness; only that he has touched
Raising of Lazarus
This painting takes its influence from John 11:1-44. The specific scene
Gozzoli is depicting comes from verse 44, where Jesus commands Lazarus
to "come out." This occasion occurs shortly after Jesus tells Lazarus'
sister Martha that "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe
in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes
in me will never die" (11:25-27). This miracle shows explicit evidence
to Martha and Mary (and other people present at the scene) that Jesus truly
is the Messiah, the Son of God. Lazarus had been dead for four days and
Jesus brought him back to life. Benozzo makes use of this miracle by showing
Lazarus emerging from the cave, bound up in strips of cloth. The two sisters
kneel before Jesus in reverence and awe.
Washing of the Disciples Feet
In the Gospel of John, there is no explicit eating and drinking at the
Last Supper. Instead, John makes a significant addition with a narrative
about Jesus washing the disciples feet (13:1-20). It is similar to the
Last Supper of the Synoptic Gospels in the sense that the occasion takes
place on the eve of Jesus' death and also that Jesus becomes aware that
Judas Iscariot will be his betrayer. Jesus washes each of the disciples'
feet. When Simon Peter hesitates Jesus urges him that it is vital to his
faith: "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me" (13:8). Afterwards,
Peter begs Jesus to wash his head and hands as well. Jesus however tell
him this is not necessary, for the rest of him is clean. Duccio here
re-enacts the moment when Jesus begins to cleanse Peter's foot and Peter
expresses his anxiety over the bathing. Peter points to his head, obviously
a reference to Peter's desire to have his head bathed once he realizes
the importance. The others crowd around taking off their sandals and touching
their beards in deep contemplation. Notice that one of the disciples' has
his face turned away from the viewer. Could this be an allusion to Judas
Raphael makes use of John's new details on the crucifixion of Jesus.
A significant addition is the wound pierced in Jesus' side (19:31-37).
Raphael depicts two angels holding cups to catch Jesus' spilled blood.
Another significant element of this painting is that Jesus' legs are in
a natural position, evidence that they have not been broken. In addition
to the piercing of the side is the presence of the Virgin Mary and "the
disciple whom he loved." They kneel in close proximity to the crucified
Jesus while Mary Magdalene and Mary of Clopas mourn in the background.
Perhaps Raphael speculates that the Marys and the Beloved Disciple stay
with Jesus after the piercing of his side, although John's Gospel does
not specifically say this.