Christ on the Lake of Gennezaret, sometimes referred to as Christ Asleep during the Tempest, shows Christ sleeping peacefully while His disciples are wailing and trying to maintain control of the boat. Recounted in the New Testament, Luke's version is full of action and is animated much like the disciples shown in the boat. The scene takes place just before Jesus is awakened by them and thereby proceeds to rebuke the storm.
The disciples show a sense of frustration, fear, and panic. One can be seen clutching the fore of the boat and looking to the side rather than what lies before him, while another is precariously holding onto the aft section of the boat. Jesus strikes a strong contrast with the disciples not only in His disposition but also in the bright yellow of His halo. The vibrant presence of Christ, although sleeping, is capable of allaying the fears of His disciples and calming the storm.
The dark and ominous greys used in the storm clouds complement the shades of blue and green used in the raging sea. These contrast with the focal point of the painting, the boat carrying Jesus and His disciples. Oil on canvas was the medium of choice for this painting. The techniques used in this painting are variations of similar works by Delacroix on this scene. In this painting, the boat is more akin to a rowboat and is proceeding towards the viewer, down and to the right. Ten figures can be seen, with Christ being easily identifiable at the aft of the boat.
Other similar paintings depict the boat as a sailboat, have a different number of disciples aboard, or have the boat proceeding in a different direction. The painting was commissioned in ca. 1853, ostensibly for Parisian art dealer Francis Petit. It was exhibited in Paris for many years and was seen by Vincent van Gogh in 1886, to which he commented that the use of color and in particular the halo around Christ spoke a symbolic language. Christ on the Lake of Gennezaret is currently on exhibition at The Met Fifth Avenue courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.