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Guercino, The Dead Christ mourned by Two Angels

Key facts
Full title The Dead Christ mourned by Two Angels
Artist Guercino
Artist dates 1591 - 1666
Date made about 1617-18
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 36.8 × 44.4 cm
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG22
Location Room 37
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Dead Christ mourned by Two Angels

This small painting depicts a solemn religious scene. Two angels kneel in quiet contemplation next to Christ, whose body has been taken down from the Cross following his crucifixion. While the Gospels make no mention of angels alongside the dead Christ, two are said to have been present at his tomb on the morning of the Resurrection.

Rather than depict the dramatic events of Christ’s crucifixion or resurrection, Guercino has created an imagined moment of grief and quiet reflection. Despite its small scale, the painting evokes a powerful sense of sorrow. One angel is overwhelmed with sadness, his head resting mournfully on his hand; the other looks intently at Christ. The earthy tones used are characteristic of Guercino’s early style.

Works on copper, like this one, are usually of small dimensions and were primarily used for private devotion. The subject of Guercino’s painting, which encourages prayer and contemplation, reflects this.

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