The Lamentation of Christ

Simon Marmion French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 953

The lifeless body of Christ rests in his mother's lap, his torso supported by Joseph of Arimathea and his proper left forearm grasped by Nicodemus. Just behind, and somewhat apart from the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist kneels in prayer. Mary Magdalen and a female companion express their quiet grief at far left. Essentially a Pietà in concept, this image of mourning foregrounds Christ's limp body, reminding the viewer that his sacrifice makes possible mankind's salvation through the celebration of the Eucharist. The drooping poppy at bottom left symbolizes sleep and death. This painting was probably commissioned by Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, during her visit to Valenciennes for the meeting of the Order of the Golden Fleece (early 1473). The knotted C's and M's, as well as the coat of arms on the panel's reverse, indicates her ownership and references her marriage to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.

The Lamentation of Christ, Simon Marmion (French, Amiens ca. 1425–1489 Valenciennes), Oil and tempera (?) on oak panel

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