“Lamentation of Christ” by Andrea Mantegna
“Lamentation of Christ” by Andrea Mantegna portrays the body of Christ lying face upwards on a marble slab. He is mourned by the Virgin Mary and Saint John and St. Mary Magdalene weeping for his death. The theme of the Lamentation of Christ was common in Medieval and Renaissance art, although this treatment is unusual for the period. The perspective enhances the realism and tragedy of the scene. The foreshortening dramatizes the stretched-out figure.
Mantegna stressed the anatomical details, in particular, Christ’s thorax, the holes in Christ’s hands and feet. Also, the faces of the mourners are portrayed without any idealism. The sharply drawn drapery which covers the corpse contributes to the dramatic effect. The composition places the central focus on the human anatomy of the figure. This focus supported a theological emphasis on the Humanity of Jesus at the time.
Mantegna presents both a distressing study of a powerfully foreshortened cadaver and an intensely poignant depiction of a biblical tragedy. This painting is one of many examples of Mantegna’s mastery of perspective. At first glance, the picture seems to display an accurate viewpoint. However, closer inspection shows that Mantegna reduced the size of the figure’s feet. Otherwise, the feet would have covered more of the body if adequately represented.
Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1506) was an Italian painter and a student of Roman archaeology. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, by lowering the horizon to create a sense of greater monumentality. His landscapes and stony figures give evidence of a sculptural approach to painting.
Mantegna’s primary legacy is considered the introduction of spatial illusionism, both in frescoes and in paintings. Mantegna made this painting for his funerary chapel. It was found by his sons in his studio after his death and sold off to pay debts.
Lamentation over the Dead Christ
- Title: Lamentation of Christ
- Variants: Lamentation over the Dead Christ, or the Dead Christ
- Artist: Andrea Mantegna
- Created: 1470 – 1474
- Medium: Tempera on canvas
- Dimensions: 68 × 81 cm
- Museum: Brera Art Gallery, Pinacoteca di Brera
- Name: Andrea Mantegna
- Born: 1431, Isola di Carturo, Venetian Republic, now Italy
- Died: 1506 (aged 74–75), Mantua, now Italy
- Nationality: Italian
- Movement: Italian Renaissance
- Notable Works
A Tour of Italy’s Museums
- Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Sforza Castle Museums
- Brera Art Gallery, Pinacoteca di Brera
- Museo Poldi Pezzoli
- Does this depiction do justice to the Humanity of Jesus?
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
Photo Credit 1) Andrea Mantegna [Public domain]