Petrus Christus (Netherlandish, active by 1444, died 1475/76)
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)
Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1890 (91.26.12)
The Gospel of John (19:3341) inspired this rendition of the Lamentation, in which both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus tend to the dead body of Christ. Mary Magdalene and Saint John come to the aid of the swooning Virgin, who collapses in sympathetic response to her son. This is one of Christus's most beautiful and affective paintings and underscores the strengths of his best work: simplicity of design and clarity of depiction. The composition inspired a sculpted relief in Sicily, suggesting that the picture was painted for an Italian client.