Feed My Sheep

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.


Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:1-19

Pope Leo X commissioned the painter Raphael in 1515 to create a series of designs for tapestries depicting the Acts of Saints Peter and Paul that were to be hung in the lower section of the Sistine Chapel. These preparatory tapestry designs are called cartoons, from the Italian word cartone, meaning large piece of paper, and among those painted by Raphael is one of Jesus commissioning Peter.

Feed My Sheep, Raphael, 1515, preparatory cartoon for tapestry design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Feed My Sheep, Raphael, 1515, preparatory cartoon for tapestry design, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The scene is set at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, with the excited disciples greeting the risen Jesus on the shore. We can see the prow of the boat the disciples arrived in on the far right. Peter is kneeling before Jesus, who points to him with his left hand and at the sheep grazing in the background with his right.

Feed My Sheep tapestry, 1516-1521

Feed My Sheep tapestry, 1516-1521

The commission was a novel combination of painting by an Italian Renaissance master with craftsmanship from the leading center for weaving, Flanders in northern Europe. The designs were woven in Brussels and the cartoons later found their way to England. The finished tapestry is reversed, due to the design transfer process, and lighter in color than the original cartoon. The cost of the project was more than five times what Michelangelo was paid to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel because tapestry was considered a more prestigious art form at the time.

X-ray photograph of Christ's Charge to Peter by Raphael

X-ray photograph of Christ’s Charge to Peter by Raphael

Each cartoon is many separate squares of paper (each about 11″ x 16″) stuck together with a flour and water paste. This x-ray photo shows the lines of the separate pieces. Use of infra-red reflectography on this image during recent conservation reveals buildings in the landscape that were not included in the finished painting.

The design was then painted on with distemper, made of pigment, water, and animal glue. When the finished design was sent to the weavers, it was cut up into one-yard wide strips, and after the sections were woven they were stitched together into the final tapestry.

Raphael’s cartoons were reused throughout Brussels by different weavers through the years and were eventually purchased at a low price for the British Royal Collection. In poor condition, they were reassembled and mounted in 1690. In 1865 Queen Victoria loaned them permanently to the Victoria and Albert Museum where they are displayed today.

Raphael cartoons on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Raphael cartoons on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In 2010, four of the cartoons and tapestries, though not the subject discussed here, were briefly reunited for exhibitions that took place in both their original home in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

exhibition

For further details on the history and conservation of the Raphael cartoons, visit these links to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s website.

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2 thoughts on “Feed My Sheep

  1. 1kayaker says:

    Thank you for sharing your blogging ministery. Great works

    Liked by 1 person

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