Christ the Good Shepherd, Ravenna – Art Criticism

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The Christ the Good Shepherd is an photograph that depicts Jesus Christ a good shepherd laying down his life for the sheep. The mannequin draws inspiration from the bible as there are some imagery evident it the piece of the artwork that also appear in the Bible. The e book of Psalms and John talks of the Good Shepperd which forms today’s Gospel at Mass. The portray is one of the most iconic pictures in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, and it is located at the northern entrance. It is no longer known who created the image, but it used to be common in the Roman catacombs during the early centuries. The portray depicts Jesus having a sizeable golden halo and wearing a royal purple mantle and holding a tall cross.

The image has characteristics of Byzantine showing mosaic wall with the extensive use of gold. The style of the painting is firmly rooted in the classical past. Paying careful attention to the painting one can notice that it creates the illusion of three-dimensional space (Kleiner, 2017). On the painting, Christ sits on a rock with his knees projecting forward space. Similarly, the flock on the paint postulates realistic space that precedes the background. Moreover, the blue sky on the painting indicates the picture show knowable and real things.

The sheep’s in the picture are an imagery of people who Jesus had come to save from sin. They show the loving and caring nature of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the painting teaches that Jesus is the almighty leader of humanity and He is the Good Shepherd and humans are the sheep. It also indicates that Jesus is the link between human god (Kleiner, 2017). The style used for the painting is overlap and shadows used to create a 3-dimensional illusion. Further, the human figures are naturalistic. Additionally, the blue nature of the art portrays an evening just before sundown which creates a peaceful feeling about the picture.

The idea of the shepherd in the painting shows the caregiver and protector in the Roman empire. Primarily, the early Christians adopted the concept of Christ as the ultimate protectors and caregiver of all Christians (Kleiner, 2017). Similarly, the lambs and sheep have a deeper meaning. The bible states that Jesus is the lamb of God and his sacrifice on the cross was interpreted as a sacrifice to humanity (Santandreu, 2014). Therefore, it is common for the picture to depict Christ as lamb and shepherded. The stone the Christ is sitting on can be argued to be throne indicating his power over humanity while the sheep represent the people.

In conclusion, the Good Shepperd painting remains one of the most iconic portraits of the Mosaic era. The image indicates the imagery of good Shepperd that is ported in the Bible in the books of John and Psalm. The picture shows the belief of the early Christians on Christ as the protector and caregiver. The imagery on the painting is useful as it shows the belief of the early Christ on the believe that Jesus is the savior and his death was a sacrifice for humanity.

Christ the Good Shepherd, Ravenna c. 425 CE.


Kleiner, F. (2017). Gardner’s art through the ages: A concise Western history (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

O’Shea, G. (2017). A comparison of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Godly Play. British Journal of Religious Education, 1-9.

Santandreu, P. (2014). Enculturation of the Gospel through Image: Influences and Attitudes Surrounding Early Christian Art. Verbum, 11(2), 9-26.

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