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Francesco Francia, The Lamentation over the Dead Christ

Key facts
Full title The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Artist Francesco Francia
Artist dates about 1447 - 1517
Date made about 1515-16
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 30.5 × 34.3 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2671
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Francesco Francia

After being taken down from the Cross, Christ’s body is laid outside the cave in which he will be entombed. Nicodemus or Saint Joseph of Arimathea kneels with his hands clasped in prayer while Saint John the Evangelist supports the body of the dead Christ. The Virgin Mary stands in a gesture of sorrow and Mary Magdalene holds Christ’s feet. Francia has devoted particular attention to the depiction of minute details, such as the figures' eyes, which are red with weeping, and the wounds on Christ’s forehead, caused by the crown of thorns he was made to wear when humiliated and crucified.

Francia painted the Lamentation on several occasions in different formats from predella panels to large altarpieces. It is possible that this painting was once a predella panel. The predella was the lowest part of a multi-panelled altarpiece (known as a polyptych) and would have been at eye-level when a worshipper was kneeling in prayer before the altar.

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