Scala/Art Resource, New York, NY

A stylized Italian countryside from the background for this interpretation of the Transfiguration. Painted by Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430–1516), the scene inludes the familiar elements of Jesus, in a white robe, standing between Moses and Elijah. The three disciples lie below the mount; two appear to be just awaking, while the third, at right, seems to be still asleep—portraying Luke’s report that “Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep. But waking they saw his glory” (9:32). A semicircle of clouds adds a heavenly aspect to the scene.

The Latin inscription on the plaque at the bottom of the picture—part of the painting itself—says, “At least you my friends have pity on me.” Although this would seem to be more appropriate to Christ’s Passion than to the Transfiguration, it may reflect Luke’s statement that Jesus “spoke of his ‘exodus’ which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem” (9:31), considered a reference to his coming crucifixion.