Today is the day of the Deposition from the Cross. I would like to share with you some paintings on the subject that goes hand in hand with “Pieta”, but is more public. Pieta is a more private, more intimate grieving process, whereas the “Deposition” is open to the public, and manifests the drama of Humanity, as opposed to the personal drama of Mary who grieves for her child.


Rogier van der Weyden

Rogier van der Weyden - Deposition
Rogier van der Weyden - Deposition

Deposition (c. 1440)

Museo del Prado, Padrid, Espagna

This is one of all times favourite paintings. The colours are brilliant, the composition static and dynamic at the same time, and the painting is powerful in conveying the emotions of the tragic process. I love the golden background, this glorious light in the moment of facing and contemplating Death. The figures are life sizes, each one of them tells a story. A visit to the Prado with all of its treasures is incomplete without viewing this masterpiece of late Gothic Art. 



Rafael - Deposition
Raphael - Deposition

Deposition (1508)

Galleria Borghese, Roma, Italia

Raphael’s Deposition was painted for Atalanta Baglioni in memory of her son Grifonetto, who was killed in the fighting for the dominance of Perugia, and housed in the church of S.Francesco in Perugia in 1507. It remained there for 101 years, until it was removed at night with the complicity of the priest and sent to Pope Paul V, who gave it to his nephew for his collection and it thus became the property of the Borghese family. After the Treaty of Tolentino the painting was sent to Paris in 1797. When it came back to Rome in 1816, only the central scene was returned to the Borghese collection, while the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, remained in the Vatican Museums (the ornamentation surmounting it by Tiberio Alfani is in the National Gallery of Umbria).
This large altarpiece presents the scene like a Roman relief and is inspired by the reliefs on ancient Roman sarcophagi depicting the transportation of Meleager. It is interesting to note that in his preliminary sketch the artist has drawn Christ lying in the ground, as in the painting by Perugino, but when he executed the painting he decided on the antique form oftransportation, as seen in a relief he probably studied on the Montalvo sarcophagus in Florence (now in the Torno Collection, Milan). But the influence of Michelangelo can also be seen in the composition of Christ (cf. the Pietà, St.Peter’s) and the figure seen in the profile supporting the Madonna repeats a similar pose in the Doni Tondo (in the Uffizi, completed a year before the Deposition).
Source: Galleria Borghese Internet Site
My only problem with this painting is that Raphael managed to make everything look so beautiful, that it is hard to feel the pain and the drama in the middle of all the beauty!
Bronzino - Deposition
Bronzino - Deposition
Deposition (c. 1545)
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Besançon

With Bronzino, the problem of “beauty” is even bigger, as he was a master of making everything look beautiful! You look at the little angels and it is like they are just having a good time!  And why not?  They are kids and have no idea about what is happening down there! And another point: how on Earth can everyone look so beautiful? There is no ordinary face around, all of them are glazed with beauty! Having said all that, the contrast with Christ is stark. Mary seems more puzzled than in grief, while the only grieving person in the composition is Mary Magdalen on the right side. 



Caravaggio - Deposition
Caravaggio - Deposition

Deposition from the Cross (c. 1604)

Pinacoteca Vaticana, Roma, Italia

The Deposition, considered one of Caravaggio’s greatest masterpieces, was commissioned by Girolamo Vittrice for his family chapel in S. Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) in Rome. In 1797 it was included in the group of works transferred to Paris in execution of the Treaty of Tolentino. After its return in 1817 it became part of Pius VII’s Pinacoteca. 
Caravaggio did not really portray the Burial or the Deposition in the traditional way, inasmuch as Christ is not shown at the moment when he is laid in the tomb, but rather when, in the presence of the holy women, he is laid by Nicodemus and John on the Anointing Stone, that is the stone with which the sepulchre will be closed. Around the body of Christ are the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, John, Nicodemus and Mary of Cleophas, who raises her arms and eyes to heaven in a gesture of high dramatic tension.
Caravaggio, who arrived in Rome towards 1592-93, was the protagonist of a real artistic revolution as regards the way of treating subjects and the use of colour and light, and was certainly the most important personage of the “realist” trend of seventeenth century painting.

Source: Vatican Museums Online

With the master of darkness, we are now back to the depiction of the drama! Here we have real people, everyone looks in a different way and angle, the faces are dark, and Death envelopes the composition as a dark cloud.


  1. Κορυφαίο post…
    και τα σχόλια σου στο τέλος, ασυναγώνιστα

    Καλή Ανάσταση παναθήναιε
    με την ψυχή σου έτσι ζωντανή… πάντα

    υγ θα το ήθελα στα ελληνικά αυτό το post

  2. Αγαπητωτατε καλη σας μερα και Χρονια Πολλα. Εξαιρετικη επιλογη εργων με θεμα την αποκαθηλωση. Και συμφωνω πως το τελευταιο ειναι το ρεαλιστικωτερο. Τωρα η ωραιοποιηση ενος δραματος ειναι αραγε αδυναμια να εκφραστει ενας καλλιτεχνης η επιλογη; Καλη Ανασταση καλε μου φιλε.

  3. Παντα οι αναρτησεις σας.. εχουν την μοναδικοτητα τους..!!! Πληροφοριες, γνωση, συναισθημα..! Ναστε παντα καλα σας ευχομαι, Καλη Ανασταση, Χρονια πολλα οπου και αν βρισκεστε, ακομη καλλιτερα εαν ειστε στην Αθηνα μας.!!

  4. Μεγαλο Σαββατο πρωϊ. Εχω να πω το εξης.

    Δρομο παιρνω δρομο αφηνω
    πλησιαζει Πασχαλια
    και στο φιλο μου τον Ταδε
    τωρα αφηνω δυο φιλια.

    Αγαπητωτατε ταδε Καλλλλη Ανασταση

  5. Κι εγώ σεμνά και ταπεινά -μη μπορώντας να φτάσω τον ποιητικό οίστρο του Δεσποιναρίου- αφήνω ειλικρινείς ευχές για Καλή Ανάσταση!

Comments are closed.