The Lamentation

Artist: Petrus Christus (Netherlandish, Baarle-Hertog (Baerle-Duc), active by 1444–died 1475/76 Bruges)

Date: ca. 1450

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 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)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1890

Accession Number: 91.26.12


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.