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The Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Artist Andrea Mantegna
Year c. 1480
Type Tempera on canvas
Dimensions 68 cm × 81 cm (27 in × 32 in)
Location Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ is a painting of c. 1480 by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna. The dating of the piece is debated, but it is generally believed to have been completed between 1457 and 1501.[1] The painting portrays the dead Christ supine on a marble slab. He is flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John, who are weeping for his death.

The Lamentation of Christ is common in medieval and Renaissance art, although the treatment, going back to a subject known as the Anointing of Christ is unusual for the period. Most Lamentations show much more contact between the mourners and the body. Rich contrasts of light and shadow abound, infused by a profound sense of pathos. The realism and tragedy of the scene are enhanced by the violent perspective, which foreshortens and dramatizes the recumbent figure, stressing the anatomical details: in particular, Christ's thorax. The holes in Christ's hands and feet, as well as the faces of the two mourners, are portrayed without any concession to idealism or rhetoric. The sharply drawn drapery which covers the corpse contributes to the dramatic effect. Unique to this painting is a design that places the central focus of the image on Christ's genitals - an artistic choice that is open to a multitude of interpretations. Mantegna managed instead to paint a very specific representation of physical and emotional trauma.

Mantegna presented both a harrowing study of a strongly foreshortened cadaver and an intensely poignant depiction of a biblical tragedy. This painting is one of many examples of the artist's mastery of perspective. At first glance, the painting seems to be a strikingly realistic study in foreshortening . However, careful scrutiny reveals that Mantegna reduced the size of the figure's feet, which, as he must have known, would cover much of the body if properly represented.[2]

Mantegna probably made this painting for his personal funerary chapel. It was found by his sons in his studio after his death and sold to pay debts. The painting is in the Pinacoteca di Brera of Milan, Italy.


  1. ^ Mantegna, Andrea. Web Gallery of Art. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  2. ^ Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner's Art Through the Ages, 13th edition.


  • La Grande Storia dell'Arte - Il Quattrocento, Sole 24 Ore, 2005
  • Kleiner, Frank S. Gardner's Art Through the Ages, 13th Edition, 2008
  • Manca, Joseph. Andrea Mantegna and the Italian Renaissance, 2006
  • Thomas, D. Faces of Christ, 1979


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