• Descent from the Cross

    Artist:
    Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. 1606-1669
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    158x117 cm

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. 1606-1669

Descent from the Cross

Holland, 1634

Like other paintings by Rembrandt on Christian subjects, The Descent from the Cross was not intended for a church, as in Protestant Holland places of worship were not decorated with painting or sculpture. This is a subject that was tackled by all the greatest masters of Western European painting and they each interpreted it in their own way. Rembrandt’s canvas, created in 1634 not to a commission but from personal inspiration, reflected his prolonged strenuous meditations on the biblical text. It seems as if the artist saw with his own eyes the motley crowd that gathered on Golgotha and silently watched as the disciples removed Jesus’ body from the Cross. Life and death, strength of spirit and the sufferings of the flesh, love and despair – all of this is embodied in the dramatic struggle of light and dark taking place on the canvas. Darkness covers the space with a dense shroud. The candle shielded by a cap in the hands of a young disciple brightly illuminates the lifeless figure of Christ. Reflected, the light falls on the deathly pale face of the Virgin Mary, who is tenderly supported by those around her. A second candle sheds a soft tender light on the cloth laid out on the ground. Its shape, together with the female figures, resembles a cradle, where Christ’s tormented body will find peace. In the 1630s Rembrandt’s studio was full of pupils and followers. Gradually, though, the artist began to shift away from the manner of depicting the world that society expected and began to give preference to sharp contrasts of light and shade that obscured almost all the details of the background. This set him apart in the artistic milieu of his time which was very much customer-oriented.

Title:

Descent from the Cross

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

158x117 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1814; formerly in the collection of Josephine de Beauharnais in the Castle of Malmaison near Paris

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-753

Category:

Collection:

User collections including this work of art: