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Italian, The Dead Christ supported by Angels

Key facts
Full title The Dead Christ supported by Angels
Artist Italian
Date made late 16th century
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 62.2 × 46.7 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, 1849
Inventory number NG219
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Dead Christ supported by Angels

The dead Christ, wearing the crown of thorns and displaying his wounds from the Crucifixion, is supported by two angels. One of them gazes at him while the other looks at us for our response. The figures fill the entire image, focusing our whole attention on the body of Christ, his wounds and his suffering.

The atmosphere is one of intense emotion, emphasised by the restricted dark space, the elongated slender figures and the tightly cropped composition. Displayed above an altar, the image would have reinforced the direct connection between the bread and wine of the Communion and the physical body of Christ, as well as giving the impression of Christ being raised from his tomb, just as those receiving the sacrament will rise from the dead on Judgement Day.

The painting may be by an unknown sixteenth-century Lombard artist known as the Master of the Stockholm Pietà, who was influenced by the Sienese artist Sodoma and the Milanese works of Leonardo.

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