'When evening fell, there came a man of Arimathea, Joseph by name, who was a man of means and had himself become a man of Jesus. He approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave orders that he should have it. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen sheet, and laid it in his own unused tomb.' Matthew 27: 57-61.
This print is amongst the most melodramatic of all Rembrandt's prints, and the composition is highly original. The focus is not the centre, but the upper left, the foreground being dominated by the bier to the right of which Joseph of Arimathea is kneeling, having draped the sheet which would recieve Christ's body. As there is only one source of light - the torch held aloft by one of the men - attention is focused on the grisly detail of the nail through Christ's right foot. The man seen from behind is perfectly depicted, and one can almost feel the full weight of the body he is bearing. In a wonderful touch a hand comes out of the gloom to the right, as another man comes to his assistance.