The Mystical Winepress

This remarkable painting from Peru is entitled The Mystical Winepress. It is featured in the Paintings from South Amercia – The Thoma Collection exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It is based on a motiff that was common in European art and poetry from the 12th to the 19th centuries.

Two passages of Scripture are related to this motiff:
Isaiah 63:3 “I have trodden the winerpress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.”
Revelation 14:19–20
[19] So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. [20] And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

The basic idea behind this motiff is that, just as grapes are crushed in a winepress to produce wine, Jesus was crushed on the cross outside the city of Jerusalem to erase all of God the Father’s wrath because of our sins.

Jesus is not nailed to the cross. Instead the cross lays on Jesus’ back and is connected to a screw that is being turned by God the Father. As the Father tightens the screw Jesus is forced down into the winpress to crush the grapes.

The grapes are being carried to the winepress by the sinful people and Jesus’ mother Mary sits below the winepress with a sword piercing her heart (Luke 2:34-35).

Verse 1 of the well-known hymn The Battle Hymn of the Republic also refers to this motiff:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.

Details of The Mystical Winepress


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