Descent from the Cross

Descent from the Cross

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The Descent from the Cross , or Deposition of Christ, is the scene, as depicted in art, from the Gospels' accounts of Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea was, according to the Gospels, the man who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus' Crucifixion. He is mentioned in all four Gospels.-Gospel references:...

 and Nicodemus
Nicodemus
Saint Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who, according to the Gospel of John, showed favour to Jesus...

 taking Christ down from the cross after his crucifixion
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

 . In Byzantine art
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

 the topic became popular in the 9th century, and in the West from the 10th century. The Descent from the Cross is the 13th Station of the Cross.

Other figures not mentioned in the Gospels who are often included in depictions of this subject include St. John the Evangelist, who is sometimes depicted supporting a fainting Mary (as in the work below by Rogier van der Weyden), and Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons", conventionally interpreted as referring to complex illnesses...

. The Gospels mention an undefined number of women as watching the crucifixion, including the Three Marys, (Mary Salome
Salome (disciple)
Salome , sometimes venerated as Mary Salome, was a follower of Jesus who appears briefly in the canonical gospels and in more detail in apocryphal writings...

 being mentioned in ), and also that the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene saw the burial . These and further women and unnamed male helpers are often shown.

Development of the image



Even in early depictions the details and posing of the composition, and especially the position of Christ's body, are varied. The scene was usually included in medieval cycles of the Life or the Passion of Christ, between the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 and the Entombment of Christ. The Lamentation of Christ
Lamentation of Christ
350px|thumb|Lamentation by [[Giotto di Bondone]] in the [[Scrovegni Chapel]]The Lamentation of Christ is a very common subject in Christian art from the High Middle Ages to the Baroque. After Jesus was crucified, his body was removed from the cross and his friends and family mourned over his body...

, or Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

, showing the body of Christ held by Mary, may intervene between these two, and is common as an individual image, especially in sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

. The Bearing of the body, showing Christ's body being carried to his tomb, and the Anointing of Christ's body, showing the body laid flat on the top of the tomb or a similarly-shaped "anointing-stone" are other scenes that may be shown. This last is especially important in Orthodox art, where it is shown on the Epitaphios
Epitaphios
Epitaphios may refer to:* Funeral oration or epitaphios logos* Epitaphios or epitaphion, a cloth icon used during Holy Week in churches that follow the Byzantine rite...

.

With the Renaissance the subject became popular for altarpiece
Altarpiece
An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two,...

s, partly because of the challenges of the composition, and the suitability of its vertical shape. The Mannerist version of Rosso Fiorentino
Rosso Fiorentino
Giovanni Battista di Jacopo , known as Rosso Fiorentino , or Il Rosso, was an Italian Mannerist painter, in oil and fresco, belonging to the Florentine school.-Biography:...

 is usually regarded as his most important work, and Pontormo
Pontormo
Jacopo Carucci , usually known as Jacopo da Pontormo, Jacopo Pontormo or simply Pontormo, was an Italian Mannerist painter and portraitist from the Florentine school. His work represents a profound stylistic shift from the calm perspectival regularity that characterized the art of the Florentine...

's altarpiece is perhaps his most ambitious work. The subject was painted several times by both Rubens
Rubens
Rubens is often used to refer to Peter Paul Rubens , the Flemish artist.Rubens may also refer to:- People :Family name* Paul Rubens Rubens is often used to refer to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), the Flemish artist.Rubens may also refer to:- People :Family name* Paul Rubens (composer) Rubens is...

 and Rembrandt, who repeated one of his paintings (now in Munich) in a large print, his only one to be mainly engraved
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

, as well as making two other etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

s of the subject.


Selected examples

  • Codex Grecus 510 (9th century Byzantine, Bibliothèque nationale, Paris)
  • Codex Egberti (ca. 980, Trier
    Trier
    Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

     city library).
  • St Albans Psalter - English Romanesque miniature (ca. 1130-45) http://www.abdn.ac.uk/stalbanspsalter/english/commentary/page047.shtml
  • Externsteine relief (12th century)
  • Toros Roslin
    Toros Roslin
    Toros Roslin ; circa 1210–1270) was the most prominent Armenian manuscript illuminator in the High Middle Ages. Roslin introduced a wider range of narrative in his iconography based on his knowledge of western European art while continuing the conventions established by his predecessors...

     (13th century) http://armenianstudies.csufresno.edu/ArmeniaDigitalProject/iconography/descent/Descent.html#
  • Byzantine Museum of Kastoria
    Kastoria
    Kastoria is a city in northern Greece in the periphery of West Macedonia. It is the capital of Kastoria peripheral unit. It is situated on a promontory on the western shore of Lake Orestiada, in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains...

     (ca. 1400) http://www.culture.gr/2/21/212/21211m/00/lb11m028.jpg
  • Rogier van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
    Deposition (Rogier van der Weyden)
    The Descent from the Cross is a panel painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden created c. 1435, now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The work shows the Deposition of Christ. The crucified Christ is lowered from the cross, his lifeless body held by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.The c...

    (ca. 1435, Museo del Prado
    Museo del Prado
    The Museo del Prado is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It features one of the world's finest collections of European art, from the 12th century to the early 19th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of...

    , Madrid
    Madrid
    Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

    )
  • Nicolas Mostaert (1579) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/vaticano/Sb-Descent.jpg
  • Rubens (1611–14, Antwerp cathedral) The Descent from the Cross
  • Rembrandt (1634, Hermitage Museum
    Hermitage Museum
    The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

    , Saint Petersburg
    Saint Petersburg
    Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

    ) http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/rembrandt/1630/descent.jpg http://www.brucevanpatter.com/rembrandt.html http://www.inter-art.com/en/1189.htm
  • Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

    , Benaki Museum
    Benaki Museum
    The Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, is housed in the Benakis family mansion in downtown Athens, Greece...

     No. 3001 (ca. 1700) http://www.culture.gr/2/21/215/21505/215051/2150513/eb119h6.html
  • Gustave Doré
    Gustave Doré
    Paul Gustave Doré was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.-Biography:...

     http://www.creationism.org/images/DoreBibleIllus/rMat2757Dore_TheDescentFromTheCross.jpg
  • Max Beckmann
    Max Beckmann
    Max Beckmann was a German painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, and writer. Although he is classified as an Expressionist artist, he rejected both the term and the movement...

     (1917) http://www.moma.org/collection/provenance/items/328.55.html
  • Enrique Miguel de la Vega http://www.catholic-sacredart.com/descentfromcross.htm
  • The Deposition from the Cross
    The Deposition from the Cross (Pontormo)
    The Deposition from the Cross is an altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo, completed in 1528. It is broadly considered to be the artist's surviving masterpiece...

    (1528) by Jacopo Pontormo at the Capponi Chapel in the church of Santa Felicita
    Santa Felicita di Firenze
    Santa Felicita is a church in Florence, Italy, probably the oldest in the city after San Lorenzo. In the 2nd century, Syrian Greek merchants settled in the area south of the Arno and are thought to have brought Christianity to the region...

    , in Florence
    Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

    .
  • Fra Angelico
    Fra Angelico
    Fra Angelico , born Guido di Pietro, was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having "a rare and perfect talent"...

    , Deposition of Christ
    Deposition of Christ (Fra Angelico)
    The Deposition from the Cross is a painting of the Deposition of Christ by the Italian Renaissance master Fra Angelico, executed between 1432 and 1434...

    , executed between 1432 and 1434, now in the National Museum of San Marco
    San Marco
    San Marco is one of the six sestieri of Venice, lying in the heart of the city. San Marco also includes the island of San Giorgio Maggiore...

    , Florence
    Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

    .
  • Caravaggio, The Entombment of Christ
    The Entombment of Christ (Caravaggio)
    The Entombment of Christ is a painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It was painted for Santa Maria in Vallicella, a church built for the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, and adjacent to the buildings of the order...

    (1602–1603), now at the Vatican Pinacoteca.
  • Eastern Orthodox Icons of the Descent from the Cross.http://www.icon-art.info/topic.php?lng=en&top_id=65&mode=img
  • The Epitaphios
    Epitaphios (liturgical)
    The Epitaphios is an icon, today most often found as a large cloth, embroidered and often richly adorned, which is used during the services of Great Friday and Great Saturday in the Eastern Orthodox Churches and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow...

     used during Holy Week
    Holy Week
    Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

    http://www.w3c.it/talks/2005/openCulture/images/epitaphios.jpg
  • The Antimension
    Antimension
    The Antimins, , is one of the most important furnishings of the altar in many Eastern Christian liturgical traditions. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, either linen or silk, typically decorated with representations of the Descent of Christ from the Cross, the four Evangelists, and inscriptions...

     http://www.ecclesia.com.br/Biblioteca/liturgia/aghia_leitourgia.htm

See also

  • Antimension
    Antimension
    The Antimins, , is one of the most important furnishings of the altar in many Eastern Christian liturgical traditions. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, either linen or silk, typically decorated with representations of the Descent of Christ from the Cross, the four Evangelists, and inscriptions...

  • Entombment of Christ
    Entombment of Christ
    The Entombment redirects here. For other uses, The Entombment The Entombment of Christ, that is to say the burial of Jesus Christ, occurred after his death by crucifixion, when, according to the gospel accounts, he was placed in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea.-Biblical account:All four...

  • Epitaphios
    Epitaphios
    Epitaphios may refer to:* Funeral oration or epitaphios logos* Epitaphios or epitaphion, a cloth icon used during Holy Week in churches that follow the Byzantine rite...

  • Pietà
    Pietà
    The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

  • Seven Sorrows of Mary
    Our Lady of Sorrows
    Our Lady of Sorrows , the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows , and Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours are names by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life...


External links