Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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The Descent into Limbo

Artist:
Circle of Andrea Mantegna (Italian, Isola di Carturo 1430/31–1506 Mantua)
Date:
mid-15th century
Medium:
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
Dimensions:
10 9/16 x 7 7/8 in. (26.9 x 20 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.274
Not on view
In this innovative composition, Christ is portrayed from behind as he embarks upon his descent into Limbo, the zone before the entrance to Hell, where he traveled after his death and before his Resurrection. The story is not found in the New Testament but was part of early Church teachings and by the fifteenth century was an accepted Christian belief. This work is closely related to a group of drawings, engravings, and paintings of a similar composition attributed to Andrea Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, and their circle. This sheet is likely a copy after a lost drawing by one of these masters. Mantegna’s depictions of this subject inspired versions by Bellini, exemplifying the exchanges between the artists.
Marking: Some contours strengthened and some areas shaded by another hand in pen and reddish brown ink.
John Skippe, the Upper Hall, Ledbury, England (see Lugt 1529a-b); his sister, Penelope Skippe, married in 1774 to James Martin, Overbury Court, Worcestershire; James Martin's son, Old Colwall, Malvern; by descent through his mother to Edward Holland; his sister, Mrs. A.C. Rayner-Wood; his nephew, Edward Holland-Martin; Skippe sale, 1958, lot 37, pl. 5; [P. and D. Colnaghi and Co. London]. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1959.
Jane Martineau. Andrea Mantegna. Exh. cat., New York; Milan, 1992, pp. 259-260, no. 65.



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