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Marco Palmezzano, The Lamentation over the Dead Christ

Key facts
Full title The Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saint Valerian and Saint Mercurialis
Artist Marco Palmezzano
Artist dates 1459 - 1539
Date made 1506
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 98.5 × 167.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1858
Inventory number NG596
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Marco Palmezzano

This was originally the top panel of the high altarpiece of Forlì Cathedral, the main panel of which is now in the Pinacoteca Civica, Forlì. The dead Christ in the tomb is supported by the Virgin (in blue), with Mary Magdalene and Saint John the Evangelist also appearing in the tomb. The patron saints of Forlì – Valerian and Mercurialis (first Bishop of Forlì) – stand on either side.

The subject of the altarpiece’s main panel is the First Communion of the Apostles – the episode following the institution of the Eucharist, when Christ announced at the Last Supper that the bread and wine represented his own body. The panel below it records the deeds of Saint Helena, who uncovered and ‘proved’ the True Cross on which Christ was crucified.

The altarpiece was unveiled in October 1506 during the visit to Forlì of Pope Julius II, who had a special interest in imagery associated with the Eucharist.

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