Friday, 25 March 2016

Station 13: Jesus is taken down from cross

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
Luke 24:26

The Descent from the Cross (or Deposition of Christ, or Descent of Christ from the Cross) is a panel painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden created c. 1435, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The crucified Christ is lowered from the cross, his lifeless body held by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Detail Christ hand
The c. 1435 date is estimated based on the work's style, and because the artist acquired wealth and renown around this time, most likely from the prestige this work allowed him.[1] It was painted early in his career, shortly after he completed his apprenticeship with Robert Campin and shows the older painter's influence, most notable in the hard sculpted surfaces, realistic facial features and vivid primary colours, mostly reds, whites and blues.[2] The work was a self-conscious attempt by van der Weyden to create a masterpiece that would establish an international reputation. Van der Weyden positioned Christ's body in the T-shape of a crossbow to reflect the commission from the Leuven guild of archers (Schutterij) for their chapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-van-Ginderbuiten (Notre-Dame-hors-les-Murs).

Art historians have commented that this work was arguably the most influential Netherlandish painting of Christ's crucifixion, and that it was copied and adapted on a large scale in the two centuries after its completion. The emotional impact of the weeping mourners grieving over Christ's body, and the subtle depiction of space in van der Weyden's work have generated extensive critical comments, one of the most famous being, that of Erwin Panofsky: "It may be said that the painted tear, a shining pearl born of the strongest emotion, epitomizes that which Italian most admired in Early Flemish painting: pictorial brilliance and sentiment".

Peter Paul Rubens - Deposition (central panel)

Joseph of Arimathea has been granted permission to take down the body of Christ - a special dispensation, since it was customary to let the bodies hang. John the Apostle, Nicodemus and two servants lend a hand. Christ's feet are resting on Mary Magdalene's shoulders. The woman in blue is Mary, Mother of Christ.

This is the central panel of a triptych. A single element unites the three scenes - Christ is portrayed as being carried. Rubens made this painting for the Guild of Arquebusiers, who wanted their patron Saint Christopher (meaning: carrier of Christ) portrayed. If Rubens had complied with this wish, he would have had to explain himself to the authorities, because the strict Contra-Reformation's principles did not allow portraits of saints to be hung in cathedrals. Instead, Rubens chose to hide all references to Christopher by portraying Christ as being carried in all three panels.

Rembrandt - Decent from cross

Joseph of Arimathea is helping Jesus down from the cross. The man in the blue suit assisting him, is a self-portrait of Rembrandt again. The man watching the action is Nicodemus, a person mentioned only in the Gospel of John. To the left, in the dark, Mary his mother has fainted.
There is some similarity with the Descent from the Cross by Rubens, but Rembrandt's work is more serene than the dramatic tableau by Rubens.


  1. All three paintings are so intense in different ways...can't really choose a favorite.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. No need for favourite.. Intense is good, always intense is better than indifferent!


  2. I like them all.
    so strong all of them..

    Thank you, Han.
    Beautiful paintings.

    Mona Lisa

    1. Thank you Mona Lisa, I like them as well..



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