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The Dead Christ supported by Saints
Marco Zoppo
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This type of image, in which Christ is shown after his death, propped up or sometimes standing in his tomb and revealing the wounds of the Crucifixion, was sometimes known as the ‘Imago Pietatis’ (‘image of pity’), or pietà.

Standing behind him are Saint Jerome, on the right, who cradles Christ’s head, and Saint John the Baptist. Both spent time in the wilderness in poverty and devotion, making them suitable for this kind of image, which was intended to promote empathy with the suffering of Christ. The inclusion of the two saints with Christ is unusual, however: it was more common for him to be shown propped up by angels.

Images of the dead Christ often formed the uppermost part of a polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) but as the reverse of this one is decorated, it’s likely that it was made to be held and moved around as a portable focus for prayer.

Key facts
Artist Marco Zoppo
Artist dates about 1432 - about 1478
Full title The Dead Christ supported by Saints
Date made about 1465
Medium and support Egg on wood
Dimensions 26.4 x 21 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG590
Location in Gallery Not on display
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