Looking or Seeing?

I had so many beautiful images to choose from for this month’s cover of our Emmanuel Magazine – so many of the Methodist Modern Art Collection pieces are Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost themed. Well, after February’s The Elements of Holy Communion and March’s The Cross over the City, I’m going with people this time: Roy de Maistre’s The Supper at Emmaus, which shows Jesus and the two disciples at the meal table.

‘The Supper at Emmaus’, Roy de Maistre (1894-1968), Oil on board 60 x 50 cm, 1958, Methodist Modern Art Collection DeM/1963, Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Registered Charity no. 1132208

Roy de Maistre was an Australian artist who worked mostly in the UK, and he was confirmed a Roman Catholic in 1951 (his Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral are very highly regarded). De Maistre studied music and art, and in his work famously used colour, light and shade to express tones and feelings in much the same way as different chords and melodies do in music. The Supper at Emmaus really illustrates this.

The two disciples seem to be a bit darker than the central figure, Jesus – perhaps this says something about their ignorance over their mysterious companion who’d journeyed with them on the Emmaus Road. Jesus is not only wearing white, but seems to be bathed in a golden light too. We, the onlooker, know who he is, but I’m not sure the two disciples do yet…what do you think? Perhaps this painting just captures the moment of realisation – the bread has been broken after all, and the wound on Jesus’ left hand is clearly visible. It might be that the disciple on the right has just got up from his chair, suddenly realising who this is.

I like art just like this… when you look at it wondering which bit of the story is taking place, who’s who and what’s what. All I can do is look and look and look again, try and make sense of it and try and enjoy it. Roy de Maistre’s work is beautiful – check out not only this piece but also the Noli me Tangere painting in the Collection as well, showing Jesus and Mary in the garden. Lots of similarities, and quite a few marked differences too.

We’ll spend our lives, you and I, like the Emmaus disciples: seeking, trying to find, trying to understand, wanting a clearer understanding about Jesus and who he was and is. Paintings like one make me feel in good company!

Enjoy the April Mag, and thanks as ever to all those who make it happen for us. Grace and Peace from your brother in Christ.


Excerpt taken from Emmanuel Magazine April 2024. The magazine, published ten times annually, features articles contributed or authored by our members. It includes a delightful blend of testimonials, devotions, book reviews, prayers, jokes, upcoming events, and more. Grab your copy of the latest magazine at the church foyer. If you prefer to receive a copy by mail or email, feel free to reach out to us.

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