Mark Cazalet - Nathaniel (asleep under the fig tree)

Mark Cazalet (1964- )

Oil on paper

18 x 18 cm

1993

Methodist Modern Art Collection
CAZ/1994/1

Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Registered Charity no. 1132208

John 1:45-51

The story of Nathaniel is an unusual subject for a painting. Here, he is lying under a fig tree, prior to his calling by Philip, apparently naked. Cazalet suggests Nathaniel knew that Jesus had seen him in his entirety. The modelling of the figure, which is an unrealistic deep reddy-brown, is very sculptural. The ground is sketched in, with the dappled shadow of the fig tree. The tree is botanically inaccurate but fits the artist’s purpose to portray it as an image of fruitfulness and consistency. Cazalet has tried to capture the nub of the story, particularly Nathaniel’s bizarre response to Jesus’ comment, and to suggest something unusual about the narrative.  The simplicity of the composition captures the simplicity of the story, the ‘metaphysical moment when every part of Nathaniel was “seen” by Christ’.

Commentary based on A Guide to the Methodist Art Collection.


Share this