The Entombment of Christ

Luisa Roldán, called La Roldana Spanish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 550

The Entombment is one of the two “jewel-like sculptures” Luisa Roldán gave to the newly installed King Philip V of Spain in 1701, petitioning him to appoint her sculptor to the royal court. In the previous decade she had pioneered a genre of sculpture—powerfully conceived and exquisitely modelled and painted figural groups, made on a deliberately intimate scale—of which this is perhaps the finest. The emotive expressions of the six figures surrounding the body of Christ as he is laid to rest run the gamut from angry disbelief and empty grief, to tender love and sympathy. The Entombment may have been placed in a convent or monastery affiliated with the royal family, or in the family’s private rooms or chapels. In whichever context, it would have inspired meditative devotion, encouraging the viewer to identify with the witnesses to Christ’s Passion.

The Entombment of Christ, Luisa Roldán, called La Roldana (Spanish, Seville 1652–1706 Madrid), Polychrome terracotta, Spanish, Madrid

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