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Gabriel Max

The Raising of Jairus' Daughter


Gabriel Max
Prague 1840 – Munich 1915


The Raising of Jairus' Daughter




Oil on canvas


123.3 x 180.4 cm


Gift of Lord Atholstan, inv. 1920.117


Western Art

When Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, implored Jesus to save his daughter, Jesus answered, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” Then he said to the girl, “Talitha cumi” (misspelled in the original frame), which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” In the stifling alcove occupied by the bed, the miracle occurs: the dead girl’s eyelids quiver, her cheeks flush, even as her cadaverous pallor and the macabre detail of the fly on her arm punctuate her recent brush with death. If the palm and crown of roses are symbols of the Virgin’s innocence and victory over death, the contrast between the mysterious shadow that surrounds Christ and the divine light that haloes the resurrected girl confers a dynamic and spiritual reading of this passage. Max, an esteemed painter and teacher who trained at the academies of Prague and Vienna, recalls Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Subtly blending Symbolism and Realism, The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter combines the artist’s penchant for the occult and spiritism on one hand, and science and natural history on the other. Exhibited at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair, the work was viewed as an attempt to revive grand-scale religious painting, then in decline.

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