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Christ at Gethsemane
Probably by Lo Spagna
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Christ kneels in prayer and looks up at an angel who holds a chalice. This is the beginning of the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion), when Christ prayed in the garden at Gethsemane: knowing that he is to die, Christ asks God to ‘take this cup away from my lips’. A companion panel, Christ carrying the Cross, is in a private collection.

We are not sure who the artist is, although the figure of Christ is very close to that in Lo Spagna’s The Agony in the Garden, also in our collection. It was presumably painted by a member of Perugino’s circle in the early sixteenth century.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Lo Spagna
Artist dates active 1504; died 1528
Full title Christ at Gethsemane
Series Scenes from the Passion of Christ
Date made perhaps 1500-5
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 34 x 26 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan, 1900
Inventory number NG1812
Location in Gallery Room 61
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Scenes from the Passion of Christ

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These two small paintings probably once formed the wings of a portable altarpiece. They show different episodes from the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion). In one, Christ kneels in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before he is arrested (Matthew 26: 39–42. In the other, he carries the cross on the way to be crucified, as described in all four Gospels.

The sweet, light style of these pictures links them to Pietro Perugino. They were presumably painted by members of his artistic circle, though it is not absolutely certain they are both by the same artist. They are very different colours, as the panel of Christ carrying the Cross has a now yellowed nineteenth-century varnish.

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