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Neapolitan follower of Giotto, The Dead Christ and the Virgin

Key facts
Full title The Dead Christ and the Virgin
Artist Neapolitan follower of Giotto
Artist dates about 1267 or 1276; died 1337
Date made probably 1330s-40s
Medium and support Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions 60 × 42.3 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Henry Wagner, 1924
Inventory number NG3895
Location Gallery F
Collection Main Collection
The Dead Christ and the Virgin
Neapolitan follower of Giotto

The Virgin, face partly obscured by her vast blue cloak, places a hand on her son’s bloody wound. He is shown upright, after his crucifixion. The image of Christ displaying his wounds after death was popular in the late Middle Ages as a focus for meditation upon his suffering. The spear used to pierce his side is painted on the back of the panel, along with other tools of the Crucifixion, including a hammer and nails.

The panel was originally the left half of a pair of images hinged together, or possibly part of a triptych (an object made up of three panels). The other part shows Saint John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene looking towards Christ in grief (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

The artist probably belonged to one of the Florentine painter Giotto’s workshops in Naples. This might have been made for Sancia, wife of the city’s ruler Robert of Anjou, whose particular focus for prayer was the body of Christ.

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