The Dead Christ

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This little picture formed the right side of a diptych (a work of two parts). It was joined with central hinges to The Adoration of the Shepherds. Ercole made this for the Duchess of Ferrara, Eleonora of Aragon, when he was court painter at Ferrara. Eleonora’s personal prayer centred on the Corpus Christi (Latin for ‘body of Christ’), so this imagery is appropriate. Christ is shown nearly naked, just after his death. Two angels prop up his limp corpse and we can see marks from the nails of the Crucifixion on his hands. A faintly sketched image of Calvary, the site of the Crucifixion, appears on the hill; Christ’s slumped body is being removed from the central cross. Saint Jerome – identifiable by his symbol, the lion – kneels next to Christ’s tomb.

The National Gallery, London



The Dead Christ


about 1490


Tempera on wood


H 17.8 x W 13.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1894

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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