Francesco Fontebasso
The Apotheosis of the Arma Christi

18th century
Baptistery ceiling, Church of St. Raphael, Venice

This is an example of "di sotto in su" illusion: on a ceiling that is flat the figures nevertheless seem to be rising high into the sky. In this case, angels rise up to bring the Holy Spirit the implements used in Christ's passion and death. The angel on the right edge of the photograph has the crown of thorns, the one near the left edge has the tongs used to remove the nails, which are held up by the angel in the blue cloth, who also holds the scepter that the soldiers gave Jesus in mockery. Not included in the photograph is another angel carrying the whip used to scourge Jesus and a pair of angels holding Veronica's veil. When pictured as a group, these objects are sometimes called the "Arma Christi," as if they were Christ's "arms" or heraldic device.

The subject can be compared to "death of Jesus" images in which angels carry both the implements and Jesus' own exhausted body to the Father.

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More of the Death of Jesus

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.