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Ludovico Carracci, The Agony in the Garden

Key facts
Full title The Agony in the Garden
Artist Ludovico Carracci
Artist dates 1555 - 1619
Date made about 1590
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 100.3 × 114.3 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Trustees of Sir Denis Mahon's Charitable Trust through the Art Fund, 2013
Inventory number NG6624
Location Room 32
Collection Main Collection
The Agony in the Garden
Ludovico Carracci

This is the night before the Crucifixion. Jesus, knowing he will be betrayed and die on the Cross, has taken Peter, James and John to watch over him while he prays, but they have fallen asleep. According to the Gospel of Luke, Christ asked God to ‘remove this cup from me’, and an angel appeared to comfort him. Here, it bears the cup from which he will have to drink, and points to a vision of the Instruments of the Passion – the cross, the crown of thorns, the column at which Christ was flagellated, the sponge soaked in vinegar he was given to drink and the shaft of the spear that pierced his side. In the background Judas leads the soldiers coming to arrest Christ into the Garden of Gethsemane: one carries a lamp, the light of which gleams on their armour.

Ludovico Carracci produced several small paintings of this subject for private devotion. This is the earliest surviving version.

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