Portraits of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

There are no contemporary portraits of Jesus. No one knows for sure what he looked like when he walked the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea in the First Century. But hundreds of artists have painted their own vision of what Jesus looked like. I've included some of the best of these here. I have avoided for the most part depictions of Jesus in the context of events of his life, which is a huge task by itself. Instead I have focused on portraits.

Christ Pantocrator ("All Ruling" or "Lord of All")

Christ Pantocrator, Monastery Church, Daphni, Greece, 11th century, mosaic.

Christ Pantocrator, Lord of All, is a characteristic icon of churches in the East. In the East, especially in India, the stupa, a square base surmounted with a dome, emerged as the basic architectural form for religious worship. This was adapted by the Eastern Byzantine Church and became the official architectural form for the Divine Liturgy. The square base represented the earth with its four corners and the circular dome the heavens above. At the center of the dome was the Christ, Jesus as Pantocrator, Lord of All. In many of these pictures, Christ with three-rayed halo, gives a sign of blessing with his right hand, and in his left hand holds the Bible. Often Christ has long, thin fingers. The letters IC and XC (with bars above them to represent a contraction) to the left and right of Jesus' face stand for IC (abbreviation of Jesus) and XC (abbreviation of Christos). (The C represents the Greek letter Sigma Σ). You can see literally hundreds of these icons by doing an image search on "pantocrator" in either Yahoo or Google. Here are some I particularly liked.

  • Kariye Camii mosque. Byzantine church of St. Savior in Chora (now Kariye Camii mosque, Istanbul (14th century mosaics in ceiling)
  • Christ Pantocrator, Hagia Sophia (1185-1204)
    Mosaic from the Deesis Panel of the South Gallery of the Hagia Sophia (1185-1204). Larger image.
    Hagia Sophia mosaic from the Deesis Panel of the South Gallery of the Hagia Sophia (1185-1204) in Constantinople, now Istanbul, and converted to a mosque. A website exists on this mosaic: http://www.pallasweb.com/deesis/index.html The entire panel is 19.5 x 13.5 feet, and was found under layers of plaster in 1934.
  • Monastery Church, Daphni, Greece, 11th century, mosaic
  • Cathedral at Cefalu, Sicily (1148), mosaic
  • St. Antony's Greek Orthodox Church, 778 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, CA. Modern example of dome and Christ Pantocrator.
  • Oldest icon of Christ Pantocrator, encaustic on panel, c. 6th century, St. Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai. Larger.
  • James J. Tissot, Christ Pantocrator, asp of convent church, Couvent de l'Annonciation, 222, rue du Faubourg-saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris.

Christ Pantocrator (1148 AD), mosaic, dome of Cathedral of Cefalù, Palermo, Italy. Larger image.

Christ in Majesty

A Western depiction of "Christ in Majesty" is similar to the eastern Christ Pantocrator. It is often found on the aspe of churches or above the door of a cathedral.

  • Church of Sant'Angelo in Formis, Capua, Italy. 12th century fresco.
  • Pisa, apse mosaic, Duomo, Pisa. Another.
  • Tympanum over the central portal (west front) of the Chartes Cathedral, France. Christ in Majesty is flanked by four living creatures and the 24 elders of Revelation 4 and 5. Built 1145, burned (except the west front) 1194. Rebuilt 1205-1220.
  • Christ in Majesty (781). Godescalc Manuscript.
  • Christ in Majesty, stained glass window, Carmel of the Holy Trinity in Spokane, WA.
  • Christ - the Patron of Prizren, The Church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevis, fresco.
  • Christ, 5th century mosaic, survived the fire of 1823. Rome?
  • Christ Mosaic, Ravenna (6th Century AD), large size
  • Christ, Христос во славе (1895), Cathedral of Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Detail of ‘Resurrection’ stained glass window, Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston, 2008, full size is 40ft x 20ft. Designed and constructed by Mellini Art Glass and Mosaics in Florence, Italy.
Detail of 'Resurrection' stained glass window, Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston, 2008, full size is 40ft x 20ft. Designed and constructed by Mellini Art Glass and Mosaics in Florence, Italy. Photo © 2010, Lea McNulty, used by permission.

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), The Good Shepherd (1920), oil on canvas. The Newark Museum.

Good Shepherd mural by Duncan Grant in the Russell Chantry, Lincoln Cathedral, England

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales

Louis Tiffany, stained glass, Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd, New Glasgow Road Presbyterian Church

St Paul was made for the Chapel of Cheadle Royal Hospital, Manchester, England.  It was designed by Edward Burne-Jones in 1892

Good Shepherd, Houghton St Giles. Same design at All Saints, Alburgh, Norfolk. Full length.

Head of Christ

Rembrandt Hamerszoon van Rijn (1606-1669), Dutch painter

Heinrich Hoffman (German painter, 1824-1911)

  • Christ At Thirty-Three,
  • Christ's Image (1894), Riverside Church, New York
  • Christ in Gethsemane (1890), Riverside Church, New York
  • Christ and the Rich Young Ruler (1889), Riverside Church, New York
  • Christ in the Temple (1871), Riverside Church, New York

Vladimir Makovsky (1846-1920), Jesus Christ (1893), Oil on canvas, 79 x 45 cm

Nikolai Kishelev, The Head of Christ (1880s). Face looking down.

Mihály MUNKÁCSY, Christ before Pilate (1880), Hungarian national Gallery, Budapest.

Fra Angelico, Head of Christ, wearing crown of thorns, bleeding with halo in back, red shirt.

Antonello Da Messina, Christ at the Column (1476), Musee du Lourve, Paris

Unknown, Jesus and Jairus' Daughter

Paul Delaroche (1797-1856), Study for the Head of Christ (c. 1834) for La Madeleine, Paris (Portrait of Eugène Buttura), National Gallaries of Scotland.

Contemporary Artists

  • Richard Hook (1914-1975), Head of Christ (sometimes mistakenly attributed to his wife, Frances Hook, who was also an artist).
  • K. Madison Moore, Jesus Christ (2008), contemporary painter, wearing crown of thorns with sad blue eyes
  • Peter V. Bianchi (1920-2000), Jesus of Nazareth (1955), Messenger Corporation
  • Maxine Musgrave, Portrait of Jesus, drawing
  • Bette Myers, The Masterpiece, potrait by  (1984)
  • Howard Chandler Christy, Head of Christ (Copyright renewed 1972, Abingdon Press)
  • Ron Marsh, Head of Christ
  • Feodor Rimsky, Christ's portrait, painted for the book cover of The Greatest Story Ever Told by Fulton Oursler.
  • Mark Keathley, Portrait of Jesus
  • Morgan Weistling (California illustrator and painter, 1964- ), "My Lord and My God," portrait,  face of Jesus covered by a white hair covering (John 20:27-28).

James Tissot

Carl Heinrich Bloch, Christ and Staff
Carl Heinrich Bloch (Danish painter, 1834-90), Christ and Staff, oil on canvas. Larger image.

Carl Heinrich Bloch (Danish painter, 1834-1890). Most paintings in The King's Prayer Chamber, National Historic Museum, Friederiksborg Castle/Palace, Hillerød, Denmark. also 111 paintings (some secular) in the Hope Gallery site.

Head of Christ on the Cross

  • Mark Cannon (contemporary artist), "Crown of Thorns"
  • Albrecht Dürer, Head of the Dead Christ (1503), a drawing. The British Museum.
  • Janet Flom, Corpus, Transfiguration Catholic Church, Oakdale, MN. Bronz cold cast crucifix. 15.5" x 24". David J. Hetland Liturgical and Public Art.
  • Guido Reni, Ecce Homo (c. 1639), oil on canvas, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna. Often copied.
  • Ludomir Slendinski (Polish painter, 1889-1980), "Christ" (1947), oil on canvas on plywood, 45 x 41 cm, Slendzinski Gallery, Bialystok.
  • James J. Tissot, Man of Sorrows (1886-96), watercolor.
  • Morgan Weistling, The Crucifixion.


Cristo-Rei, Alamada, Libson, Portugal

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janerio

Various Portrait Collections


Christian Art and Paintings: Abraham Art | Agnus Dei Art | Angel Art | Annunciation Art | Celtic Stone Cross Art | Christian Symbols and Art | Christmas Art | DavidEaster Art | Elijah | Passion of Christ by Tissot | Gideon | Hebrew-Jewish Art | Holy Week Art | Jacob | Jesus' Ministry Art | Jesus' Teaching Art | Jesus Portraits and Art | John the Baptist | John the Apostle | Lamb of God Art | Last Supper Art | Madonna & Child Art | Moses and the Exodus | Names of God Art | OT Misc Art | Psalms Art | Palm Sunday Art | Paul Art and Paintings | Day of Pentecost Art | Peter Art and Paintings | Prayer Art | Resurrection Art | Revelation Art | Solomon |Thanksgiving and Pilgrims Art | Timothy Art and Paintings
Copyright of artwork. Much, but not all, of the artwork linked to on this site is in the public domain worldwide due to the date of death of its author (if it is was published outside of the U.S. and the author has been dead for over 70 years), or due to its date of publication (if it was first made public in the U.S. before 1923), at least in the United States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.), in Germany, and in many other countries.

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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