The Lamentation by Petrus Christus

Essay by imaGeA, October 2007

download word file, 5 pages 4.4

The Lamentation by Petrus Christus is currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The medium used is oil painting on wood, and it is from the Netherlands; made ca. 1450. Christus uses simplicity and clarity to bestow the viewer an emotional impact that gives a sense of sorrow and pity.

The painting depicts when Jesus has just been taken off the cross. The event depicted takes place in Golgotha, otherwise known as the place of the skull; which is reminded by bones and a skull surrounding a cross. The cross is stabbed into the dirt in the far right of the middle ground of the ground plane with nails that were used to crucify him and tools to take them off surrounding it. An urn, which is used to hold the ashes of a dead person, is seen in the middle ground, relating to the death of Jesus.

In the painting, “both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus tend to the dead body of Christ.”1 The bloodied and wounded Jesus is shown being supported by them. As stated on the museum’s website, “Mary Magdalene and Saint John come to the aid of the swooning Virgin, who collapses in sympathetic response to her son.” The Virgin Mary and Saint John have their eyes closed in disbelief, mourning what has happened. Saint John is shown supporting her while Mary Magdalene is in the process of approaching the Virgin Mary as depicted with her open arms and eyes focused on her.

The type of clothes that the figures are wearing in the painting resembles the clothes of the time period in which it was made, 1450’s. This allows the viewer during the 1450’s to be able to relate to the painting more. It would be as if someone of...