Rhenish or South Netherlandish 15th Century|
Rhenish 15th Century (sculptor)
South Netherlandish 15th Century (sculptor)
The Dead Christ Supported by an Angel (The Trinity), c. 1440
painted and gilded alabaster
overall: 31.1 x 22.6 x 9.8 cm (12 1/4 x 8 7/8 x 3 7/8 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Ralph Harman Booth
Object 3 of 8
The lifeless and gaunt body of Christ slumps in the arms of an angel, whose face is marked by quiet grief. In the corner the hand of God, emerging from a swirl of stylized clouds, points with a gesture of benediction to the dove of the Holy Spirit as it descends to the head of Jesus. Such images inspired the viewer to contemplate and identify with the suffering of Christ. Dramatic depictions of great pathos and immediacy, called Andachtsbilder (devotion-images), had been especially popular in German-speaking lands since the early thirteenth century for their ability to elicit a personal and emotional religious response.
This small alabaster relief, probably made by a Rhenish or southern Netherlandish artist, still retains much of its original paint. It may have been part of a larger set of carvings installed in a church or convent chapel or it may have been used for private devotion in a home. As the numbers of wealthy merchants in the cities increased during the fifteenth century, there was a growing market for such private devotional works. Some were specifically commissioned, but others were also produced in large numbers for export and to be sold at the annual fairs that enlivened market towns.
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