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Imitator of Andrea Mantegna, The Resurrection

Key facts
Full title The Resurrection
Artist Imitator of Andrea Mantegna
Artist dates about 1431 - 1506
Series Three Scenes of the Passion of Christ
Date made perhaps 1460-1550
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 42.5 × 31.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1881
Inventory number NG1106
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Resurrection
Imitator of Andrea Mantegna

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate set a guard of soldiers at Christ’s tomb to prevent anyone from stealing his body; they did not expect Christ to rise from the dead. Here we see that the soldiers have fallen asleep, and are completely unaware of Christ’s resurrection.

This scene was popular in Renaissance painting as it provided visual affirmation of the Christian belief in Christ’s bodily resurrection. Christ stands triumphantly upon his tomb, which is a classical-style marble sarcophagus; he holds the banner of the Resurrection – the white flag with a red cross. We also see a large and graceful tree with small fresh leaves – a symbol of life and hope which, in its height and grace, echoes Christ’s pose upon his tomb.

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Three Scenes of the Passion of Christ


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.