A collection of marble sculptures called the”Jonah Group” is now on display at the ClevelandArt Museum. “Jonah Swallowed, Jonah Cast Up, JonahPraying, Jonah Under the Gourd Vine, and The GoodShepherd,” are the separate titles for each of thedifferent statues depicting events in the Biblestory. They are part of the John L.
SeveranceFund; numbered 1965.237, .238, .239, .240, .241respectively. The “Jonah Group” was created inAsia minor, approximately 270 to 280 AD.
Thesestatues most likely decorated the water fountainin a wealthy private home.This visual Analysisfocuses on “Jonah Cast Up.” “Jonah Cast Up,” thissculpture portrays the miraculous event of Jonahbeing spit out of the Whale. It consists of astrangely shaped whale lying on its stomach. Thewhale arches its back so that the curvy tailtwists up over its head.
Shooting out of thewhale’s mouth is Jonah. He is halfway out headfirst with his arms outstretched straight abovehis head. The figures rest on a rectangle basethat is roughly 3 inches tall and approximately asquare foot in area.The whole sculpture is 15inches tall, 16 inches long, and 81/2 inches wide.The Jonah figure is missing a left hand which hasbroken off over time. It is a statue showingaction and movement by the way Jonah is being castup and out of the whale’s mouth. The sculpture, asall of “The Jonah Group,” is constructed of whitemarble from Roman Imperial quarries in AncientPhrygia. Having been unearthed from a large pithosin central turkey, nearly fifty percent of thesculpture’s surface remains covered with a thinlayer of light brown dirt or dust.
The surface isso smoothly shaped that the stone looks soft tothe touch. Under an outdoor fountain, the wetstatue would have a brilliant white shine.Thefigure of Jonah has a well proportioned, muscular,upper body sculpted resembling a Greek God.
He hasa full beard and wavy flowing hair. In thissculpture, only his top half is visible, and he isnot wearing a tunic. His arms are outstretchedabove his head palms open flat, as if thrustinghis way up out of the beast. He seems completelyuninjured, and his face shows little anxietyconsidering his situation. His eyes are open andappear to be gazing off to the horizon as if he isalready planning where to begin his new life ofservitude to the Lord.The Whale is formed out ofa variety of different animal parts. Mostnoticeably is the shape of its head. It was givena pig head shape, pig snout, and pig ears.
It hassharp, vicious looking dog teeth, a dog mouth, andnose. A spiked mane runs down the back of its neckbeginning between its large, perked forward ears.The Whale was given dog legs and paws.
It also hasfeathery angel wings.The rear half of the bodyresembles a whale except for being too slender andfor having too many curves in its tail. The tailgives it a scary, evil quality as it twists backand forth like a snake.
On the end of the tail isan true whale fluke. The Whale is positioned onits stomach with fins propping it up on eitherside. Its eyes are blank and do not give anypersonality. In the “Jonah Group,” a Hellenisticstyle is noticed in Jonah’s wavy hair, Zeus-likebeard, and Roman tunics.There is much earlyChristian symbolism in this piece.
Jonah swallowedand cast up possibly represents the death andresurrection of Christ. In the Bible story Jonahis not a strong fearless man. Instead he foolishlyattempts to flee from God on a ship. But after hewas trapped in the belly of a whale, he prayedthere for three days and nights, the artist giveshim a stern and fearless disposition coming backout. The Whale, as like most mythical animals inthe Bible, is composed of a variety of animalparts to add to its religious symbolism.Jonah wasnot swallowed on accident, but instead God had aspecific plan and test for Jonah and so the Whaleseems to have been specially created by Him.Bibliography:.