The Entombment

'The Entombment' almost certainly formed part of a large winged altarpiece, probably painted for export to Italy, which would have been facilitated by the linen support.

In Bouts's restrained yet powerful depiction of Christ's body being lowered into the tomb, the figures are carefully arranged and their expressions of grief varied. The male figures look directly at the body of Christ, the womens' eyes are downcast. Mary holds on to Christ's arm, in a gesture of reluctant and tender leave-taking. In the distance is an exceptionally subtle and convincing landscape.

Although few Netherlandish paintings of this period on linen cloth - as opposed to panel - have survived, they were once very common. The muted and translucent colours are due to the use of a glue medium applied directly to the sized linen. The effect would always have been far less brilliant than egg tempera or oils over a chalk ground on panel.

Key facts

Artist dates
1400? - 1475
Full title
The Entombment
Date made
probably 1450s
Medium and support
Glue tempera on linen
87.5 x 73.6 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1860
Inventory number
Location in Gallery