Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, painted between 1601 and 1602 is one of Caravaggio’s most gripping, disturbing, and redemptive works. A figurative reproduction of a tale from St John's Gospel, the artist portrays the moment in which the Apostle Thomas, unaware of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, insisted on probing the wound made by a Roman spear while Jesus was on the cross. If he did not inspect the incision with his hands, he declared that he would not believe. Soon after, Christ revealed himself to Thomas, declaring: 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.' A popular theme during the Renaissance and for many artists following the heady years of intellectual optimism, if one places any other reproduction of the scene next to Caravaggio’s, the other appears muted, distant, and congenial in comparison. Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas manages to express with flinching precision the inquisitive hands fingering their way into the mortal flesh of Christ.
However this drama of disbelief is not shocking. It is somehow suffused with a transcendental tenderness, as the baby-like face of Thomas pushes through curiosity to knowledge. The Incredulity of Saint Thomas has become subject of numerous reproductions since its creation in the first years of the seventeenth century. Certainly, its remarkable emotional charge struck many artists and the affective mise-en-scene of this intimate inspection inspired the construction of a cinematic language some three hundred years later. Caravaggio is an artist who flattens temporal distance; he is at once both ancient and modern, like his Biblical figures dressed in early seventeenth century clothing.
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