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Oil painting - Christ weeping over Jerusalem
  • Christ weeping over Jerusalem
    Scheffer, Ary, born 1795 - died 1858
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Christ weeping over Jerusalem

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (painted)

  • Date:

    1849 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Scheffer, Ary, born 1795 - died 1858 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Murray Miller

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ary Scheffer (1795-1858) was born in Dordrecht but attended the Amsterdam Teeken-Academie, In 1811 he moved with his family to Paris where he may have trained under Pierre Paul Prud'hon (1758-1823) and Pierre Guérin (1774-1833), and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He primarily followed the neo-classical school but then turned to Romantic ideals and became one the Romantic leading figures. He mostly produced history paintings and portraits. Despite his Dutch origins, Ary Scheffer is generally considered to belong to the French school of which he formed many members such as Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), Auguste Legras (1817-1887), Jules Adolphe Goupil (1839-1883), his own son Dirk-Ary Lamme (1839-1879) and many others. His daughter bequeathed many of his works to the city of Dordrecht and actually housed in the Dordrechts Museum.

This painting is a typical work of Ary Scheffer's late output and echoes his increasing religious preoccupation of the end of his life. This composition focuses on the solitary figure of Christ weeping for the coming destruction of Jerusalem. As described by the Evangelist Luke in the New Testament (19:41):' As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.'

Physical description

Half-length figure of Christ dressed in red with a blue cloak, a mountainous landscape and distant city of Jerusalem in the background.

Place of Origin

Paris (painted)


1849 (painted)


Scheffer, Ary, born 1795 - died 1858 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

Ary Scheffer 1849
Signed and dated lower left


Height: 84.5 cm estimate, Width: 66 cm estimate, Height: 122 cm Gilt frame, Width: 103 cm Gilt frame, Depth: 8 cm Gilt frame, :

Object history note

Given by Mrs Murray Miller, 1878

Historical significance: This painting is a typical example of Ary Scheffer's later works, most of which are sober compositions showing half-length figures. A posterior and larger version of this composition, signed and dated 1851, is now in The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (37.111). The light, pastel-like palette along with the graciousness of the Christ's gesture and the nobility of his posture reveal Scheffer's affinity with the Romantic school and the inheritance from his neo-classical apprenticeship. The solitary figure of Christ overlooking a distant city and the large clear sky without any pictorial effect are typical characteristics of the Romantic iconography and constitutes a good mirror of the political, literary and religious context. Ary Scheffer's most successful period was under the July Monarchy of King Louis-Philippe in France (1830-48), in which he took personal interest but he played no role in the Second Republic that followed nor did he maintain links with the Second Empire of Napoleon III, which replaced the Republic four years later. This weeping of Christ may therefore echo a pessimist apprehension of the immediate future and thus illustrates his own moral preoccupation. Furthermore this painting was probably never seen before his death in 1858 as he stopped exhibiting at the Salon in 1846.

Historical context note

The word Romanticism derived from the medieval term 'romance' and was first used by the German poets and critics August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel to label a wider cultural movement beginning with the late 18th and ending towards the mid 19th century. Romanticism started first in Western Europe as a literary and philosophical movement and only gradually involved the other arts, explicitly around 1800. Romantic artists were fascinated by nature they interpreted as a mirror of the mind. They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious and the occult. The interest in the exotic and the non-Western, illustrated in France by such a painter as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), as well as the medieval revival, witnessed in England by Horace Walpole (1717-1797), are perhaps the most identifiable parts of Romanticism. It is really in the Post-Napoleonic period that this movement gained ascendancy. Its greatest proponents were among others Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) and François-René de Chateaubriant (1768-1848) in France, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) in England, Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) and Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) in Germany. In the visual arts, it was largely played out by 1850, but in music it persists for another generation.

Descriptive line

Oil on canvas; 'Christ Weeping over Jerusalem', Ary Scheffer, 1849

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 92, cat. no. 198.
Hunt, Tristram and Victoria Whitfield, Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on, exh. cat., Manchester Art Gallery, 2007.


Oil; Canvas


Oil painting


Paintings; Christianity


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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