Olga's Gallery


Old Testament Notes

Tree of Jesse

            The Tree of Jesse (Latin: radix Jesse, literally 'the root of Jesse') is a motif occurring frequently in the Catholic artistic traditions, starting in the 11th Century and largely disappearing during the 1500s. It is intended to visually represent the lineage of Jesus Christ, which went back to King David, who was the son of Jesse.

In this motif, the figure of Jesse was usually depicted reclining at the foot of the tree, with the trunk either growing out of his body or from behind him, although sometimes, Jesse was omitted from the renderings altogether. Members of Jesus' genealogy were placed on the branches, while Mary and Jesus crowned the apex of the tree, usually accompanied by angels. The number of Jesus' ancestors shown in the tree varied, but usually included David and Abraham. The figures of prophets were usually depicted flanking the tree.

Chagall's resurrection of this outdated Christian motif was meant to emphasize Judaism's and Christianity's common roots.

See: Marc Chagall. Tree of Jesse.
 

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