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Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo based this painting on a picture of the same subject by Rembrandt (also in the National Gallery’s collection). Both make dramatic use of light and shade. Here Christ’s pale, limp body is highlighted by a white shroud. The two men crucified alongside Christ still hang on their crosses, their slumped bodies obscuring their heads. The ‘good thief’, who recognised Christ and was saved, is bathed in subtle light while the ‘bad thief’ is in shadow. On the right, two men – Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea – balance the verticals of the crosses and form a frame to the subject. Beside their feet lies a grief-stricken Mary Magdalene; her head is the start of a diagonal path upwards, through Christ, the Virgin and Saint John and up the ladders to the dark cloud above.
The Lamentation at the Foot of the Cross
Oil on canvas
H 64.2 x W 42.5 cm