Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Lamentation

Petrus Christus (Netherlandish, Baarle-Hertog (Baerle-Duc), active by 1444–died 1475/76 Bruges)
ca. 1450
Oil on wood
Overall 10 1/8 x 14 in. (25.7 x 35.6 cm); painted surface 10 x 13 3/4 in. (25.4 x 34.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1890
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 641
Intended for private devotion, this emotionally charged painting depicts the Lamentation according to the Gospel of John. It includes both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who lift Christ’s dead body by his head and feet, while Mary Magdalen and John reach forward to support the swooning Virgin. Mary’s pose, which echoes that of her crucified son, alludes to the themes of compassio and co-redemptio, wherein the Virgin empathically feels Christ’s torment and shares his role as Redeemer.
The painting may have been exported to Italy, since it inspired a marble relief by Antonello Gagini in Palermo Cathedral, Sicily.
Albert John Hamborough, Steephill Castle, Ventnor, Isle of Wight (until 1887); Sir John Charles Robinson, Newton Manor, Swanage, Dorset (from 1887); Henry G. Marquand, New York (by 1889–90)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nudes in Landscapes: Four Centuries of a Tradition," May 18–August 5, 1973, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Petrus Christus: Renaissance Master of Bruges," April 14–July 31, 1994, no. 8.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 4.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Antonello da Messina: Sicily's Renaissance Master," December 13, 2005–March 5, 2006, no cat. number.

W. Bode. "Alte Kunstwerke in den Sammlungen der Vereinigten Staaten." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 6, no. 1 (1895), p. 17, calls this picture an especially fine example of Christus's work.

Morton H. Bernath. New York und Boston. Leipzig, 1912, p. 52, pl. 48.

Walter Cohen in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Ulrich Thieme. Vol. 8, Leipzig, 1913, p. 125, lists it as an early work in the style of the Crucifixion at Wörlitz [the "Dessau Crucifixion," destroyed].

Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, pp. 21–22, considers this painting little more than a schematic version of Eyckian art.

Ludwig von Baldass. "Ein Frühwerk des Geertgen tot Sint Jans und die holländische Malerei des XV. Jahrhunderts." Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien 35 (1920–21), p. 12, observes that it appears to belong at the beginning of Christus's artistic development and considers it free from the influence of the mature art of Jan van Eyck.

Martin Conway. The Van Eycks and Their Followers. London, 1921, p. 110, calls it an earlier version of the "Lamentation" in Brussels, which he dates 1460 or later.

Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 1, Die Van Eyck, Petrus Christus. Berlin, 1924, pp. 151–52, 157, 170, pl. 60, comments on its independence from Jan van Eyck and calls it a work of Christus's mature period; dates it soon after 1450 ("c. 1460" on p. 170) and calls the Brussels Lamentation the latest of Christus's known works.

Willy Burger. Die Malerei in den Niederlanden 1400–1550. Munich, 1925, pp. 35, 90, pl. 120, attributes this picture and the Dessau Crucifixion to a somewhat younger contemporary of Ouwater and observes that Dülberg claimed these works for the Dutch school; dates this painting about 1470.

Otto Pächt. "Die Datierung der Brüsseler Beweinung des Petrus Christus." Belvedere 10 (1926), pp. 158–60, pl. 10, dates it after the Brussels Lamentation, which he places among Christus's earliest works; notes that in both paintings the motif of the collapsing Virgin is borrowed from Rogier's Descent from the Cross (Prado, Madrid).

[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert. Histoire de la peinture flamande des origines à la fin du XVe siècle. Vol. 2, Les continuateurs des Van Eyck. Paris, 1928, p. 92, pl. 70, fig. 116.

Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 34, places this painting before the Brussels Lamentation, which he dates shortly after 1460.

Chandler Rathfon Post. A History of Spanish Painting. Vol. 4, The Hispano-Flemish Style in Northwestern Spain. Cambridge, Mass., 1933, part 1, p. 29, publishes an early copy of this painting (fig. 2), the central panel of a triptych in the parish church of Hormaza, west of Burgos.

J[acques]. Lavalleye in "De vlaamsche schilderkunst tot ongeveer 1480." Geschiedenis van de vlaamsche kunst. Ed. Stan Leurs. Antwerp, 1936, p. 184, dates this picture about 1460 and the Brussels Lamentation about 1465.

Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 250, figs. 122, 123 (shadowgraph detail).

Wolfgang Schöne. Dieric Bouts und seine Schule. Berlin, 1938, pp. 25, 57, no. 15, dates it shortly before 1457.

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 19–20, ill., observe that it "gives the impression of being one of his [Christus's] early works".

Germain Bazin. "Petrus Christus et les rapports entre l'Italie et la Flandre au milieu du XVe siècle." Revue des arts 4 (December 1952), pp. 199, 200, 204, 208, figs. 2, 6, 8 (overall and details), places this painting in a group of works by Christus which he feels belongs to the pictorial conception of the quattrocento, particularly that of Antonello.

Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, vol. 1, pp. 235, 309, 488 n. 4; vol. 2, pl. 251, fig. 404, notes similarities of this painting to the Turin Pietà attributed to Hand "H," but rejects identification of Hand "H" with Petrus Christus; calls our picture a plainer, considerably later variant of the Brussels Lamentation.

Leo van Puyvelde. La peinture flamande au siècle des van Eyck. Paris, 1953, p. 192, calls it a simplified replica of the Brussels picture.

Wolfgang Schöne. "Die drei Marien am Grabe Christi." Zeitschrift für Kunstwissenschaft 8 (1954), pp. 146, 148–50, fig. 11, dates it about 1452 or somewhat later.

Georges Marlier. "Beweinung Ysenbrants nach Petrus Christus." Weltkunst 25 (March 1, 1955), p. 12, publishes a copy of our picture recently acquired by the Galerie de Heuvel (Brussels) and attributes it to Isenbrant.

Georges Marlier. Ambrosius Benson et la peinture à Bruges au temps de Charles-Quint. Damme, Belgium, 1957, p. 213 n. 12.

Josua Bruyn. Van Eyck problemen. Utrecht, 1957, pp. 109–10, 149, dates it between 1450 and 1455.

Jacques Lavalleye. Collections d'Espagne [Les primitifs flamands, II: Répertoire des peintures flamandes des quinzième et seizième siècles, vol. 2]. Antwerp, 1958, p. 32, discusses it in relation to the Hormaza copy (no. 81, pl. 21).

Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 41–42, 111, fig. 6, places it very early in Christus's evolution, before he came under Eyckian influence.

David G. Carter. "The Providence Crucifixion: Its Place and Meaning for Dutch Fifteenth Century Painting." Bulletin of Rhode Island School of Design 48 (May 1962), p. 21 n. 3.

Hélène Adhémar. Le Musée National du Louvre, Paris. I [Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 5]. Brussels, 1962, p. 69, mentions it in connection with a Pietà by Christus in the Louvre (RF 1951-45).

John Rowlands. "A Man of Sorrows by Petrus Christus." Burlington Magazine 104 (October 1962), p. 420, dates it in the 1450s and comments on the close kinship between the figure of the dead Christ in this picture and the figure of Christ in Christus's "Man of Sorrows" (City Art Gallery, Birmingham, England).

Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 1, The van Eycks—Petrus Christus. New York, 1967, pp. 85–86, 88, 95, pl. 84.

Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, p. 131, dates it "a few years later (ten at most)" than the Brussels Lamentation.

Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 74 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].

Lola B. Gellman. "The 'Death of the Virgin' by Petrus Christus: An Altar-piece Reconstructed." Burlington Magazine 112 (March 1970), p. 148, dates it somewhat earlier than Christus's "Death of the Virgin" (Timken Art Gallery, San Diego).

Lola B. Malkis Gellman. "Petrus Christus." PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1970, pp. 205–9, 231–34, 248, 273, 347 nn. 107–8, pp. 402, 407, 429, 431–33, 445, 485, no. 15, fig. 51, compares the figure types and composition to those in other works by Christus.

Charles Sterling. "Observations on Petrus Christus." Art Bulletin 53 (March 1971), pp. 9, 21, 24, figs. 22, 24, 40 (overall and details), groups it with other works by Christus which he feels are influenced by early Eyckian art and dates it about 1433–35(?).

Joel M. Upton. "Petrus Christus." PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa., 1972, pp. 20–21, 104–6, 109, 284, 295, 303–5, 311, 366, 373–78, 389, no. 22, fig. 22, suggests a date of 1444–45 and places the Brussels composition in 1449; notes that the copy in Spain of our picture is part of a triptych in which the left wing portrays Saint Anthony and a donor in a manner similar to the Christus altar wing in Copenhagen; suggests that our "Lamentation" might be a reduced version of the main panel of an altarpiece of which only the Copenhagen wing survives.

Peter H. Schabacker. Petrus Christus. Utrecht, 1974, pp. 32, 35 n. 27, pp. 38, 40, 42, 46–50, 58–59, 72, 75, 101–2, 105–6, 120, no. 11, fig. 11, observes that the figures of the Virgin and Saint John are taken from Rogier's "Descent from the Cross" (Prado, Madrid) and sees a source for the Magdalen in the midwife in the "Birth of Saint John the Baptist" (Milan-Turin Hours); dates our picture shortly after 1452 and the Brussels Lamentation about 1465–70.

Ottmar Kerber. "Rogier van der Weyden." Giessener Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte 3 (1975), pp. 18–19.

Ursula Panhans-Bühler. Wiener Kunstgeschichtliche Forschungen. Vol. 5, Eklektizismus und Originalität im Werk des Petrus Christus. Vienna, 1978, pp. 16–17, 54–57, 67–70, 73–75, fig. 43, calls it a late work.

Barbara G. Lane. The Altar and the Altarpiece: Sacramental Themes in Early Netherlandish Painting. New York, 1984, p. 95, fig. 63, discusses the central role played by the Virgin in this composition, and relates it to other similar works.

Colin T. Eisler in Liber Amicorum Herman Liebaers. Ed. Frans Vanwijngaerden et al. Brussels, 1984, p. 462.

John Pope-Hennessy. "Roger Fry and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Oxford, China, and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday. Ed. Edward Chaney and Neil Ritchie. London, 1984, p. 231.

Introduction by James Snyder in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 10, 27, ill. (color).

Ben Broos. Meesterwerken in het Mauritshuis. The Hague, 1987, p. 406.

Joel M. Upton. Petrus Christus: His Place in Fifteenth-Century Flemish Painting. University Park, Pa., 1990, pp. 44–46, 70, fig. 37, dates it about 1444.

Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke in Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 20, 24, 323, no. 149, ill.

Hans J. van Miegroet. "The Sign of the Rose: A Fifteenth-Century Flemish Passion Scene." Metropolitan Museum Journal 27 (1992), pp. 77, 83 n. 1, fig. 2.

Paul Philippot. La peinture dans les anciens pays-bas, XVe–XVIe siècles. Paris, 1994, pp. 41–42, fig. 32.

Hans Belting and Christiane Kruse. Die Erfindung des Gemäldes: Das erste Jahrhundert der niederländischen Malerei. Munich, 1994, p. 201.

Maryan W. Ainsworth. Petrus Christus: Renaissance Master of Bruges. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 35–36, 41, 83–84, 106–11, 115, 123, no. 8, ill. p. 107 (color) and figs. 31–32, 34, 102, 118–119 (detail x-radiograph and infrared reflectograms), believes that new information gathered through infrared reflectography supports a date of about 1450 and confirms the connection of Christus's technique with manuscript illumination; notes that the iconography follows accounts of contemporary Passion plays, particularly of the York Realist [about 1425, so-called because of his realistic description of the Passion] .

Peter Klein in Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Dendrochronological Analysis of Panels Attributed to Petrus Christus." Petrus Christus: Renaissance Master of Bruges. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, p. 215, gives estimated felling date as 1441 and the presumed date of execution (plus ten years storage) as 1451.

Paul Jeromack. "New Light on Old Masters." Art & Antiques 17, no. 5 (1994), p. 76.

Peter Klein. "Dendrochronological Findings of the Van Eyck–Christus–Bouts Group." Petrus Christus in Renaissance Bruges: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth. New York, 1995, pp. 154, 162.

Lorne Campbell. "Approaches to Petrus Christus." Petrus Christus in Renaissance Bruges: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth. New York, 1995, p. 7.

Hélène Verougstraete and Roger van Schoute. "La 'Lamentation' de Petrus Christus." Petrus Christus in Renaissance Bruges: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth. New York, 1995, p. 202.

Otto Pächt. Early Netherlandish Painting from Rogier van der Weyden to Gerard David. Ed. Monika Rosenauer. London, 1997, p. 80, ill. p. 83.

Della Clason Sperling in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. vii, 12, 65, 98, 109, 287, no. 4, ill. p. 99 (color), dates it about 1450.

John Oliver Hand. "New York. From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 140 (December 1998), p. 854.

Cyriel Stroo et al. The Flemish Primitives II: Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Vol. 2, The Dirk Bouts, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling and Hugo van der Goes Groups. Brussels, 1999, pp. 152, 158, fig. 77.

Till-Holger Borchert. "Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 204, fig. 113 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].

Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa in Antonello da Messina: l'opera completa. Ed. Mauro Lucco. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2006, p. 300.

Karen Wilkin. "Antonello da Messina at the Met." New Criterion 24 (February 2006), p. 48.

A larger, similar Lamentation attributed to Christus is in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (98 x 188 cm; Friedländer 1967, pl. 93). It has been dated both before and after the MMA picture. A third picture of this subject, also ascribed to Christus, is in the Louvre, Paris (36 x 25 cm; Friedländer 1967, pl. 85). An early copy of the MMA painting by a sixteenth-century Flemish artist, possibly Isenbrant, hangs in the parish church of Hormaza, west of Burgos (Lavalleye 1958, pl. XXI). A second copy, in Galerie de Heuvel, Brussels, in 1955, was sold at Sotheby's, London, April 8, 1981, no. 57, as by Isenbrant.
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