Jan Gossaert

Descent from the Cross

Descent from the Cross
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Jan Gossaert
Painting, Oil on canvas, 141x106.5 cm
Origin: Netherlands, Circa 1520

Gossart is usually seen as the founder of Romanism, a trend in Netherlandish art which combined the achievements of the Italian Renaissance with national traditions. In terms of iconography, this painting - which once formed the central part of an altar triptych - reveals the influence of 15th- and 16th-century Italian painting . The multi-figure composition is strictly centralised and balanced, and yet it is not monumental, for the composition seems to be divided into separate elements. In the foreground are Joseph of Arimathea with Christ's crown of thorns, and the Holy Women, one of whom is wringing her hands in grief while the other two bend over the unconscious Madonna. Amongst the pupils and followers of Christ we see the young John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross and Mary Magdalene. The artist's great skill in giving the bodies a sculptural feel, shown in the deliberately complex foreshortening, is evidence of the lessons he learned in Italy. However the nature of the landscape and the naturalistic treatment of the clothes, jewellery and everyday objects are linked with the traditions of the Netherlandish school of painting.

Personage: Christ
Style: Romanism
Source of entry: Collection of William II, The Hague, 1850
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: Netherlandish Art: 15th - early 17th centuries

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