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Probably by Jacobello del Bonomo, The Man of Sorrows

Key facts
Full title The Man of Sorrows
Artist Probably by Jacobello del Bonomo
Artist dates documented 1375 - 1385
Date made about 1385-1400
Medium and support Egg tempera on poplar
Dimensions 48 × 30.4 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Henry Wagner, 1924
Inventory number NG3893
Location Room 29
Collection Main Collection
The Man of Sorrows
Probably by Jacobello del Bonomo

The artist of this panel has sculpted the drops of blood which fall from Christ’s side and hands and then painted over them to emphasise their gore. The circular wounds in Christ’s hands were caused by the nails of the Crucifixion and the wound in his ribcage by a Roman soldier’s spear. Christ’s head dangles limply to one side and heavy eyelids seal his eyes closed. He is shown in death but standing upright in his open tomb.

This kind of image showing the dead Christ with a focus on his wounds was called the ‘Imago Pietatis’ (‘image of pity’) or the Man of Sorrows. It was based upon an image from Byzantium, the Eastern Christian empire, and its purpose was to inspire empathy for Christ’s suffering and death.

Byzantine images were particularly popular in Venice which had close links with Byzantium. This picture has been removed from the frame which connected it to a larger multi-panelled altarpiece. The location of the other panels has not been established.

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