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Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife
The Christian Afterlife
Assumption of the Virgin
Anton Kern was a master of the Rococo style in painting and drawing. He studied with Giovanni Battista Pittoni, a Venetian painter and draftsman, who focused on religious, historical, and mythological subject matter. Kern lived in Venice from 1724 to 1731 and then moved to Rome in 1738.
As a symbol for the Christian afterlife, the Assumption of the Virgin has been a subject of Christian art for centuries. The story of the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven was originally written about in the apocryphal books of the Bible. Some versions of the narrative indicate that Mary died in Jerusalem, while others claim that she died in Ephesos. According to most traditions, after Mary’s death, the apostles gathered around her tomb and opened it, but the tomb was found empty except for her burial shroud. As tradition holds, Mary had been physically lifted and carried to heaven.
In Anton Kern’s version, a choir of angels carries the Virgin Mary in a spiraling motion toward a divine source of light. The twelve apostles are gathered around her empty tomb, and the women who witness the event are identified as Mary Magdalen and the sisters of the Virgin.
Attributed to Anton Kern
Museum of Art and Archaeology | College of Arts and Science | University of Missouri
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