Easter Day – Resurrections and Rabbits

Visitor Services & NAL
April 1, 2018

Happy Easter! To celebrate Easter day I’ve posted some images of V&A objects that depict the Resurrection of Jesus, the religious event which underpins the celebrations. I’ve also included a few cute and not so cute Easter Bunnies that you can find in the Museum.

Easter day is celebrated by Christians around the world to commemorate the day (in approximately 30AD) when their saviour Jesus, the son of God, rose from the dead. By overcoming death, he not only demonstrated his divinity and gave credence to his teachings but offered the possibility of Heaven (God’s Kingdom) to everyone. Stories of Jesus’  life, death and resurrection are recorded in the Gospels and Epistles of the New  Testament of the Bible. The Easter story tells of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday where his actions and miracle-working attracted an ever-growing band of  followers and also hostility from religious leaders . Betrayed by one of his inner group, he was arrested and condemned to death. Executed by crucifixion on a wooden cross, he died an awful, slow and public death. Dead and  buried on Good Friday, by the third day on Easter Sunday he had risen from the dead, escaped from his rock tomb and made known  his return to some of those in his closest circle.

There can be few better ways to make a statement  than by overcoming death. Yet despite it’s importance to the Christian faith, it is not an image that is particularly familiar in Christian art. More often we see Jesus’ birth,  Jesus as an infant in his mother’s arms, the Crucifixion or his Ascension into Heaven. The lack of any detailed description of the moment of Resurrection in the Gospels may contribute to the paucity of well known images and this is exacerbated by the difficulty that artists face in trying to differentiate images of ordinary waking-up from images of extra-ordinary resurrection.

1. Ivory Diptych with scenes from the Passion of Christ c1350-60 290-1867
2. Slate Doorway carved with a relief of the resurrection. 1480 222:5-1879
3. Limewood Reliquary Shrine c1490-1500  357-1854

Detail from gilded limestone Troyes Altarpiece c1525
4413:1 to 3-1987 MedRen Rm 50b
The Marnhull Orphrey
Embroidered band for back of priests chasuble.
England 1315-35 T.31-1936

Enamel detail from Spanish Cross c1380-1400   M.340-1956
Detail from Arras Tapestry showing the Resurrection
c1400-25   Museum no. T.1-1921
Med Ren Room 10

From Left to right
1. The Resurrection. 14th century alabaster panel. A110-1946
2. The Basilewsky Situla c980.  Museum no. A.18-1933
3. The Resurrection. 15th century Alabaster panel A81.1946

Some of the depictions are symbolic. Lions, pairs of birds or griffins and the banner of the Agnus Dei lamb may  be used to represent Christ’s triumph over death.

Look out for all these objects in the V&A’s Cast Courts, Medieval and Renaissance, Tapestry,  Gilbert Bayes, Stained & Sacred Silver, Glass and Ceramic Galleries.

Hallelujah! ……….. and some more rabbits.





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