The artistic objective pursued by Luca Giordano was to master different styles of painting and to transform them into an expressive, virtuoso pictorial language of his own. His early works were greatly influenced by the style of Jusepe de Ribera (1590-1652), though they did not have the latter's dark, dramatic manner. In 1665, Giordano became a member of the painters' guild in Naples, which was to remain the centre of his activity, although he also worked in Rome, Florence, Venice and Bergamo. In his design and colouring at this time, his unerring artistic sense led him to follow the technique of painters such as Guido Reni (1575-1642) and Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The Neapolitan was famous for the swift execution of his works (fá presto) and for the immense productivity that resulted from this. At the height of his career, between 1692 and 1702, he was court painter to King Charles II and painted extensive fresco cycles in Madrid and Toledo. Giordano's works formed the link between Roman High Baroque and Rococo, and they served as models for the Venetian painters of the 18th century and for the Baroque painters of Austria and southern Germany.
A tremendous force bears the transfigured body of Christ from the sealed tomb up into the light. The soldiers in the dark foreground, who have been roused from their sleep, witness the mystery and fall back in terror. Giordano enhanced the falling and rising movements with strong contrasts of direction and changing perspectives. Together with the dramatic chiaroscuro, this lends powerful expression to a striking interpretation of events, which are not described in the gospels. Giordano aptly depicts the bursting open of the sky with sweeping circular movements of his brush, and he creates a convincing image of divine glory. The spontaneity and masterly skill of his hand become artistic values in their own right. A drawing for this painting is to be found in the Graphische Sammlung of the Hessisches Nationalmuseum Darmstadt, Inv. no. AE 1886. Two earlier, comparable altarpieces from about 1665, are to be found in the church of Santa Maria del Buonconsiglio, Naples, and in the Santuario di Monte Berico, Vicenza. An altarpiece in the Fenoroli Chapel of Sant' Anna dei Lombardi in Naples, painted by Caravaggio in 1609 and destroyed in 1805, is cited as the model for this work.
Gabriele Groschner, Thomas Habersatter, Erika Mayr-Oehring (Ed.): Masterworks. Residenzgalerie Salzburg. Salzburg 2002, p. 66