Being – The End of a Long Day’s Work


I wonder …

… I wonder what Jesus has been making today.

… I wonder what Mary has kept in the chest.

… I wonder what the scroll on the window ledge says.

… I wonder what the objects on the back wall mean.

… I wonder if Jesus knows.


The Shadow of Death was painted by William Holman Hunt, from 1870 to 1873. It is held in the Manchester Art Gallery and shows Jesus working as a carpenter prior to his ministry. He is stretching his arms at the end of a long day’s work and creates a “shadow of death” prefiguring the crucifixion. His mother Mary, looking up from the box in which she has kept the gifts given by the Magi, glances up at the shadow in alarm.

In the background are many symbolic items: a scroll, pomegranates (passion fruit), a red circlet, a red plumb bob, the shadow of a saw appearing as a spear, the large nails, an arch forming a halo, the Galilee hills, and the star.


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