The betrayal by Judas mentioned here occurs shortly after the Last Supper and involves him identifying Christ though an embrace (it is from this that the phrase of a Judas Kiss was born). Those seeking Jesus then arrest him and take Christ away for punishment. The facial expression of Judas is of a man who knows precisely what he is doing and gets a feeling of satisfaction for turning in his friend. It was the chief priests and elders who pursued Jesus, whilst armed with swords and clubs. Their intentions were clear, as was the likely result for their new prisoner. On other occasions they have been described as the police force of the Sanhedrin.
The incident occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane, with Giotto depicting a nightime scene. Interestingly, Jesus had earlier predicted his death and betrayal in the New Testament but was unsure when or how exactly it would occur. Giotto depicts a scene of confrontation and emotion, placing yet more figures in the far background to give the impression of an overwhelming sense of inevitability around Christ's plight. His pain and suffering were redirected towards creating devotion and gratefulness within the Christian Church.
The sense of this medieval lynching is underlined by the torch lights and sticks carried by the mob as they search for Jesus. There really is nowhere for him to escape. As Judas draws him into an embrace Christ then becomes absorbed into his cloak. Their long glance at each other sums up the situation, with no words necessary.
Few, if any, historical figures have been depicted in art as much as Jesus Christ, due to the huge role that religion has played in European society over the past 2000 years. Every significant moment in his life, as outlined in the Bible, has been used by artists at one time or another as inspiration for their work. His turbulent life and all that he sacrificed is ideally suited to providing emotive, uplifting artworks that can also easily be understood by the masses.
Those to have also taken on this theme include Caravaggio (or one of his followers), Fra Angelico, James Tissot, Gustave Doré and Wilhelm Marstrand. The precise title used by each differed, with some naming the arrest or the betrayal, others specifically the kiss, but the content would always be essentially the same. To see artists from different movements take on the same topic is always intriguing and something that has occurred frequently within the religious society of Europe during the past several centuries.