Today is Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, when Western Christians celebrate Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem. The event is recounted in all four Gospels and marks the first day of Holy Week (Mt. 21:1-10; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19: 28-40; Jn. 12: 12-19). As the first of the so-called Passion Scenes, The Entry Into Jerusalem appears frequently in Italian narratives where artists captured the jubilation of the crowd, who shouted “Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Onlookers acclaim Jesus, who rides on a humble donkey in fulfillment of prophesy, and pave the way with their cloaks and palm branches. Artists typically show young boys climbing trees for a better view, a motif inherited from Byzantine art.
Giotto, Entry into Jerusalem, fresco, 1305, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua
Roman, Entry into Jerusalem, marble, late 4th cent., Adelphia Sarcophagus, detail, Museo Paolo Orsi, Siracusa, Sicily
Italian Mosaicist, Entry into Jerusalem, mosaic, 1140-70, sanctuary, south wall, Cappella Palatina, Palermo
Pietro Lorenzetti, Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, fresco, c. 1320, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi
Lorenzo Ghiberti, Entry into Jerusalem, gilded bronze, 1403-24, Baptistry, Florence
Melozzo da Forli, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, fresco, 1477-82, Basilica of Santa Casa, Loreto
Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu). Neo-Assyrian, ca. 883–859 B.C. Nimrud (ancient Kalhu).
The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal’s palace:
"I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship."
The inscription continues: “Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing.”
Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces. (met)