National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Pietà Moretto da Brescia (artist)
Italian, 1498 - 1554
Pietà, 1520s
oil on panel
overall: 175.8 x 98.5 cm (69 3/16 x 38 3/4 in.) framed: 206.1 x 129.1 x 7.6 cm (81 1/8 x 50 13/16 x 3 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1952.2.10
On View
From the Tour: Venice and the North
Object 2 of 6

Moretto's careful realism and emotional intensity reflect the influence of painting from north of the Alps, but he also assimilated the rich coloring of Venetian painters.

The Bible does not explicitly describe this scene, in which the Virgin, John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene grieve over the body of Christ at the tomb. This composition evolved not from a narrative at all, but from other images. The figures are those linked with the Crucifixion, while Christ's upright body resembles scenes of the Deposition, and Mary's sorrowful embrace recalls the Pietà. Moretto's inventive combination creates a new type of devotional picture -- one that elicits powerful emotion and concentrates the viewer's meditation on the suffering of Christ.

The austere composition focuses attention on the intense grief experienced by the simple figures, whose faces are drawn in sorrow. The pathos is increased by Mary Magdalene's embrace of Christ's feet. Christ's sacrifice and sacramental nature are underscored in other ways. His limbs echo the shape of the cross, and his wounds are visible. Moretto was a lifelong member of a religious confraternity devoted to the sacrament of communion.

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