With Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday now a few weeks behind us, we are more than halfway through the Lenten Season, one of the most significant holidays in the Christian faith. Each year during this time, thousands of people visit Forest Lawn in Glendale to witness our Trilogy Collection, featuring the three most significant events in the life of Christ in magnificent art— the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
All three of these masterpieces have intriguing stories surrounding them.
The Last Supper Window, a brilliant stained glass re-creation by Rosa Caselli Moretti of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, was almost never finished, due to the fact that the figure of Judas broke five times during the firing process. Taking it as a sign, Moretti declared she would not finish the window if Judas broke once more.
The Crucifixion painting, by Polish artist Jan Styka, was originally brought by Styka to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 for showing. Because of its massive 195 foot long/45 foot high size, he was unable to display it and was forced to return to Poland without it because he could not pay the duty to take it home. Styka, whose self portrait is seen in the painting as the figure of Saul (Paul), died in 1925 without ever seeing his painting again.
The Crucifixion was stored in several warehouses over the years until Forest Lawn Founder Dr. Hubert Eaton and his colleagues located it at the Chicago Civic Opera company in 1943. Forest Lawn purchased it after World War II and built The Hall of the Crucifixion for the express purpose of displaying Styka’s work. It opened on Good Friday in 1951.
Lastly, The Resurrection was commissioned after a 25-year long and futile search for an epic painting to complete the Trilogy. A contest was held and American artist Robert Clark was selected to create the piece. Featuring Christ outside his tomb looking towards the heavens where the faithful throughout the years were gathered— including a figure of Dr. Eaton—Clark’s work was completed in 1965.
We invite you to experience the Trilogy Collection for yourself. The Last Supper is presented daily in the Great Mausoleum on the half hour from 9 am to 4:30 pm. The Crucifixion and The Resurrection may be seen in the Hall of the Crucifixion-Resurrection Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to noon and 2 pm to 4 pm on the hour.