The Crucified Rat: A New Easter Vanitas / by Neal Auch

Still Life with Crucified Rat: This piece is now  available for purchase .

Still Life with Crucified Rat: This piece is now available for purchase.

“Our Saviour.  Two thieves.  One is supposed to have been saved and the other…damned.” — Vladimir, speaking to Estragon, in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

As the story goes, Christ was crucified alongside two thieves. One thief mocked Jesus in his agony, while the other used his final moments to beg for forgiveness. This he was granted; Christ promised the second thief salvation. (“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” Luke 23:43)

This episode is often interpreted as a call to piety. “Do not despair,“ St Augustine tells us “one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume, one of the thieves was damned.“ My take on the story of the two thieves is rather closer to the musings of the derelict vagabonds in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. For them, the story of the two thieves illustrates only that the whims of fate are arbitrary and capricious.

This new still life image was composed specifically with Easter in mind and draws considerable inspiration from the story of the two thieves. (The piece is currently available for purchase in my online store.)

Taking a cue from Beckett’s taste for ambiguity, I will leave it to the viewer to decide which of the three men crucified at Calvary the rat is intended to represent…

Happy easter friends!