The Entombment

Moretto da Brescia (Alessandro Bonvicino) Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 609

Conceived as a meditation on mortality, this altarpiece was painted just before Moretto’s death for the oratory (a small chapel for private prayer) of a religious organization in his hometown. Key to its message of loss and hope is the striking contrast between the somber faces of the figures and the dawn light playing across the sky and landscape.

Moretto played a pivotal role in the push to prioritize theological clarity in religious paintings during the 1500s. To guide worshippers, he included the explanatory inscription “He . . . became obedient unto death” (Philippians 2:8), suggesting Christ’s humility in accepting his fate. Members of the religious organization would have meditated on the piercing grief of his mother and other attendants, but also the promise of life to come.

The Entombment, Moretto da Brescia (Alessandro Bonvicino) (Italian, Brescia ca. 1498–1554 Brescia), Oil on canvas

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