The Lamentation of the Dead Christ


Anthony van Dyck
Antwerp 1599 - Blackfriars 1641
oil on canvas
115 x 208 cm
Inventory number 404

The body of the dead Christ lies almost fully stretched, his head resting in the lap of Mary. John gently lifts the lifeless hand of the Saviour and shows two angels the wounds caused by the nails of the cross. The figures fill almost the entire picture, leaving little room for a rock or an oppressive sky. The result is a dramatic, intimate and sober scene.
Like Rubens and Jordaens, Anthony van Dyck was one of the grandmasters of 17th-century Flemish painting. He was renowned across Europe as a portrait painter and also worked abroad, mainly in Italy and England, where he received various commissions from the nobility.
The Lamentation of Christ was produced for Italian client Cesare Alessandro Scaglia, who led a busy life. He was not only the Count of Verrua, but also an abbot, a businessman and an art dealer. As a diplomat, he actually briefly interacted with Peter Paul Rubens. When Scaglia arrived in Antwerp in bad health, he had an altar erected in the church of the monastery of the Friars Minor, where he spent his final years. This painting was intended for his tomb.

Working for Scaglia

The Lamentation of Christ is not the only painting that van Dyck made for Scaglia. Among the others is a portrait that is also in the museum collection.

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