Temptation in the Wilderness by Briton Riviere, 1898

Riviere was a British artist much loved by Victorians because his paintings always had a story to tell. This one has, too.

It is a study of Christ’s wilderness experience.  The artist has used colour to convey feeling. As white appears blue-ish in the sunset’s shadow, Christ’s garment seems to be melting into the drear landscape. It suggests a feeling of being engulfed.

We are seeing Christ at the precise moment that the sun dips out of sight, a moment of terrifying vulnerability.  Abandoned by the light, he waits to be plunged into total darkness. But a tiny point of light shines white-bright directly above his head. Jesus cannot see it because he has turned away. The observer longs to shout: ‘Turn round! Look! The evening star is shining for you!’

It is, perhaps, the inner voice that calls to us, too, whenever we feel sad or lonely.


What ‘point of light’ pierces our gloomier moments?

Have we to ‘turn round’ in some way to notice?