The Ascension

The Mural of the Ascension

After Christmas, Stanley’s health improved enabling him to start work on the second mural, The Ascension of Christ. The mural shows Christ exhorting his disciples to, “Go and teach the nations. I am with you”, an exhortation which follows the universal theme of the murals. Stanley painted this mural after the Nativity as he thought that if he should die before all the murals were completed, the two murals would show the beginning and end of Christ's time on earth. He felt that this was important.

Stanley said that The Ascension was the most freely painted of the five. It was completed, “at a fairly high speed... possibly two or three weeks”. The Mural shows Peter going forward towards Jesus, with the other disciples milling around. Stanley thought carefully about how he should portray each apostle, since he wanted to show each’s individuality, including weaknesses and failings. Peter is going forward to Christ, hand on heart, remembering that he had denied Christ three times. St John, ‘the Disciple Christ loved’, third from the right, jealous of his favour with Christ, is looking toward the viewer with a slightly aggressive attitude, as if he were telling us to keep our distance. On the extreme right is Thomas, the doubter. His hands are covering his face, and he is remembering that he had said. “Not until I put my hands into his side and my fingers his hand that I believe he has risen”.