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Rembrandt, 'The Lamentation over the Dead Christ', about 1635

Key facts
Full title The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Artist Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made about 1635
Medium and support Oil on paper and pieces of canvas, mounted onto oak
Dimensions 31.9 × 26.7 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Sir George Beaumont, 1823/8
Inventory number NG43
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ

Christ’s body has just been taken down from the Cross, and his family and followers mourn over him – a moment known as The Lamentation. Rembrandt laboured over this small monochrome picture. He began by making an oil sketch on paper, then tore out a section and mounted the rest on canvas. He continued the design on the canvas at the lower right, before someone else extended the picture by adding strips to the top and bottom.

The picture is very likely a study for an etching that Rembrandt never executed. One of the clues for this is in the positioning of the two men who were crucified alongside Christ, the so-called Good Thief and Bad Thief. Here, the Bad Thief appears to Christ’s right, which was traditionally the position reserved for the Good Thief. In the making of an etching, however, the whole composition would be reversed.

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