I think when you see it in person it creates this powerful sense of illusion, somehow - because of how realistically these near-life sized bodies are painted, the painting creates a vivid illusion of bodies floating upwards.
It's supposed to be an image of salvation, of the bodies of the dead rising on the day of judgement, but it's really a quite sinister, morbid image. I like that apocalyptic tone it has, the grim colours.
It's also a bit kitschy, as Leighton's stuff always is, the marbled/tanned muscularity of the man. I say it's painted "realistically" but of course it's not a realistic image, both in the sense that it's a mythical/magical scene and in that it's highly mannered.
BUt it's that collision of realism and fantasy that makes it so weirdly powerful, I think - as an image.
If its intended to have an emotional effect (and it probably is), a poignance or something, it completely fails in my eyes, because of that mannered, uncanny quality.
These are all groping explanations to explain a visceral response. Probably too there's something satisfying about the way he's positioned the figures in the foreground and background, a mathematically satisfying balance, within the circular (tondo?) frame, presumably derived - as is the anatomical depiction of the bodies - from Michelangelo and Raphael.
Artwork page for ‘And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were in It’, Frederic, Lord Leighton, exhibited 1892 on display at Tate Britain. This scene shows the resurrection of the dead as described in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. Figures rise out of tombs and the ocean. Their poses and skin colour...
i don't like that kind of paintings but i feel like i can't really say why. it's just that every museum i go into i see the same depressing biblical paintings, with the naked breasts and the pale skin. the museums are full of them. they're all dusty and old looking. it makes me think of the interior of my grandma's house. maybe you need to get the symbology for it to appreciate it better?
It's worth remembering that I am a miserable, morbid sort of person and I like wallowing in it sometimes. I suspect this is one reason why I like Rego more than Luka.
I'm also somehow or other highly conservative in my view of art (ditto poetry, prose, music) and although I make an effort to enjoy abstract and even conceptual stuff I tend to instinctively prefer representational art with veiny hands, tangible silks and gnarled tree trunks in it and stuff. This is why I only REALLY liked Rego when she moved onto figurative pastels which resembled to my eyes the work of Degas and Freud. I thought all the abstract stuff at the start was sort of interesting but also sort of bollocks.
Should also emphasise that that painting is one of my favourites at that gallery, not of all time.
yeh my criticism is infantile to be honest. i wouldn't be surprised if i do start to appreciate it when i get older but i also believe in the scenario that with every new generation the interest in this kind of art will decline.