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The Deposition
Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece
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The removal of Christ’s body from the Cross takes place in what appears to be a shallow gilded niche. The setting, with its stiff geometric decoration around the arch, may be intended to resemble contemporary tabernacle altarpieces, which included three-dimensional carvings set beneath a canopy and were sometimes decorated with this kind of elaborate tracery.

A nimble boy at the very top of the painting attempts to support Christ’s weight while clinging on to the arm of the Cross, hooking one ankle over it to prevent himself from falling headlong. Joseph of Arimathea, who had offered up his family tomb for Christ, supports his upper body, which is received by Nicodemus, who, according to the Gospels, believed that Christ was the Son of God. The Virgin Mary is slumped on the ground, supported by John the Evangelist, while Mary Magdalene clasps a tense, bony hand to her head in shock and grief.

Key facts
Artist Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece
Artist dates active about 1470 to about 1510
Full title The Deposition
Date made about 1500-5
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 74.9 x 47.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1981
Inventory number NG6470
Location in Gallery Room 62
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