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Lo Spagna, Christ at Gethsemane

Key facts
Full title Christ at Gethsemane
Artist Lo Spagna
Artist dates active 1504; died 1528
Series Scenes from the Passion of Christ
Date made perhaps 1500-5
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 34 × 26 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan, 1900
Inventory number NG1812
Location Room 61
Collection Main Collection
Christ at Gethsemane
Lo Spagna
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Christ kneels in prayer and looks up at an angel who holds a chalice. This is the beginning of the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion), when Christ prayed in the garden at Gethsemane: knowing that he is to die, Christ asks God to ‘take this cup away from my lips’.

It was painted by Lo Spagna, an artist of Spanish origin who, after Raphael, was the most talented of Perugino’s associates. Lo Spagna – who spent most of his career in Southern Umbria - developed a sweet, charming yet idiosyncratic manner which distinguishes his paintings from the plethora of works produced in Perugino’s style.

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Scenes from the Passion of Christ

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These two small paintings probably once formed the wings of a portable altarpiece. They show different episodes from the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion). In one, Christ kneels in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before he is arrested (Matthew 26: 39–42. In the other, he carries the cross on the way to be crucified, as described in all four Gospels.

The sweet, light style of these pictures links them to Pietro Perugino, who in the early sixteenth century was the most admired and commercial artist in central Italy. They were painted by Lo Spagna who, after Raphael, was the most talented of Perugino’s associates. A nineteenth-century source suggest they were made for Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, who became Pope Leo X.