Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Circle of Gerard David (Oudewater, near Gouda c. 1460-1523 Bruges)
Circle of Gerard David (Oudewater, near Gouda c. 1460-1523 Bruges)

The Lamentation

Details
Circle of Gerard David (Oudewater, near Gouda c. 1460-1523 Bruges)
The Lamentation
oil on oak panel, shaped top, in an engaged frame
12¾ x 8 7/8 in. (32.3 x 22.5 cm.)

Brought to you by

Nicholas H. J. Hall
Nicholas H. J. Hall

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

Condition Report

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This poignant Lamentation is a finely painted and intimately-sized devotional image that strongly echoes the work of Gerard David, often considered to be the last of the great early Netherlandish 'Primitives' of the 15th century. After the death of Hans Memling in 1494, David came to dominate the artistic landscape of Bruges for more than two decades and his influence can be felt in the work of many of his contemporaries as well as on later generations of painters.

Although it has no basis in scripture, the depiction of the Lamentation had been established in Western art since the 13th century. David turned to the subject numerous times over the course of his long career and instilled a renewed sense of pathos to his compositions, accounting for their lasting popularity. Specifically, the present panel seems to borrow the overall arrangement of the figures, albeit in reverse, from David’s Lamentation now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (dated to c. 1515-20). Yet far from being a slavish copyist, the anonymous artist behind this work produced an inventive reformulation of the Philadelphia composition, enhancing its emotional impact by narrowing its focus on the group formed by the tearful Saint John holding up the body of the deceased Christ and presenting it to the Virgin, thereby overlooking the Magdalene and ridding the picture of any other narrative elements. Now primarily concerned with the soft embrace of the mother kissing her martyred son for the last time, the picture conveys with profound mastery the universality of her distress. It also illustrates the theological concept of the compassion or ‘co-passion’ of the Virgin, which posited that the Holy Mother partook in and experienced the suffering to which Christ was submitted during the Passion.

The artistic license on the part of this anonymous artist is not only compositional but is also manifest in the facial types he adopted in this work: less serene and idealized than David’s sculptural figures, they convey the mourners’ sorrow with a heightened sense of expressivity. The artist’s minute handling, his attention to details, and subtle treatment of the draperies would have rewarded close observation and effectively fostered the viewer’s devotion.

More from Renaissance

View All
View All