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Dirk Bouts, 'The Entombment', probably 1450s

Key facts
Full title The Entombment
Artist Dirk Bouts
Artist dates 1400? - 1475
Date made probably 1450s
Medium and support Glue tempera on linen
Dimensions 87.5 × 73.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG664
Location Room 28
Collection Main Collection
The Entombment
Dirk Bouts

Christ’s body, wrapped in a white shroud, is being placed in a tomb by his grief-stricken family and followers. His mother Mary, clasping his wrist, seems on the edge of collapse; John the Evangelist holds her up. Behind them are Mary’s sisters, one wiping tears from her eyes, the other holding her veil to her mouth. Mary Magdalene supports Christ’s legs and gazes sadly at his face. This is the only surviving image of the Entombment by Bouts, and is a quiet expression of intense emotion.

It is a rare survivor of a once common type, a picture painted on cloth rather than wooden panels. Made in large numbers in the Netherlands in the fifteenth century, few exist today. This one is in remarkably good condition, although the colours would originally have been rather brighter.

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