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Jusepe de Ribera, The Lamentation over the Dead Christ

Key facts
Full title The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Artist Jusepe de Ribera
Artist dates 1591 - 1652
Date made early 1620s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 129.5 × 181 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by David Barclay, 1853
Inventory number NG235
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Jusepe de Ribera

Ribera captures the moment when Christ’s lifeless body is laid out after it has been brought down from the Cross. A solemn Saint John the Evangelist, dressed in red and green, gently supports Christ’s elegant corpse. Christ’s pallor is striking – his lips and skin are turning grey-blue – and his brow is smeared with the blood he shed from wearing the crown of thorns. In the centre of the composition is the Virgin Mary, joining her hands in prayer and looking down at her son in extreme sorrow. Mary Magdalene bends over and brings her face close to Christ’s feet, as if about to kiss the wounds caused by the nails that held him to the Cross.

This is a youthful work by Ribera, and his earliest representation of the subject. Ribera studied the works of Caravaggio and these were to have a lasting influence on his style – here the naturalistic body of Christ and dramatic use of light are both inspired by him.

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