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Noli me Tangere
Imitator of Andrea Mantegna
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According to the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene wept when she saw that the tomb in which Christ had been buried was empty. A man appeared and asked her why she was crying – she eventually recognised him as Christ, and reached out to touch him. He stopped her: ‘Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father’. Noli me tangere is Latin for ‘Do not touch me’.

A vine, rich with grapes, encircles the pruned branches of a large tree, creating an elaborate arch that frames Christ’s slender figure. The grapes symbolise the wine – thought to transform into Christ’s blood – drunk by Christians at Mass in memory of Christ’s death and resurrection.

This panel is one of a group of three resurrection scenes, all in our collection, painted by an artist in imitation of Mantegna’s style.

Key facts
Artist Imitator of Andrea Mantegna
Artist dates about 1431 - 1506
Full title Noli me Tangere
Series Three Scenes of the Passion of Christ
Date made perhaps 1460-1550
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 42.5 x 31.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG639
Location in Gallery Not on display
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Three Scenes of the Passion of Christ

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These three panels celebrate Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead. It is likely that all three came from the same series and were painted by the same artist. The pictures reflect aspects of Mantegna’s style, particularly engravings he made at the end of the 1450s and beginning of the 1460s. The jagged rock formations, the angular folds of the draperies and the sinuous figures are particularly characteristic of Mantegna’s paintings.

The painter is unknown but technical analysis of the pigments used shows that they are unlikely to have been painted more than about 50 years after Mantegna’s death. Analysis of the underdrawing (the initial design as drawn on the panel) shows that the painter did not make any alterations to the overall design or any of the details. This suggests that they were tracing directly from a pre-existing image rather than inventing an original composition.

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