The Deposition

The scene appears to take place within a carved shrine, and the painting mimics 15th-century sculpted tabernacles. These were adorned with Gothic tracery and had figures carved almost in the round.

Christ is lowered from the cross, with arms conspicuously stiffened in rigor mortis, towards the foreground figures of the Virgin and Saint John (left) and the Magdalen (right). Two holy women appear in the background, one with the crown of thorns, and the Magdalen's jar of ointment is prominent in the foreground, beside the skull of Adam whose burial place was said to be the site of the crucifixion.

The richly dressed figures have the intense expressiveness that characterised this Cologne painter's style, their mental agitation showing in the gestures of their splay-fingered hands, as well as in the tears several of them have shed.

Key facts

Artist dates
active about 1470 to about 1510
Full title
The Deposition
Date made
about 1500-5
Medium and support
Oil on oak
74.9 x 47.3 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1981
Inventory number
Location in Gallery