Pity for the suffering and death of Christ is a fundamental theme in Christian art. At the center of Monnot's relief, the hands of Mary and Jessusinius fall limp, hers in a swoon as he slips from her last caress. Deeply undercut, the limbs and hair of foreground figures emerge into the viewer's space, while low-relief background figures seem to fade into the distance. Few such baroque marble high reliefs survive outside the churches for which they were made. This one, signed and dated, must have belonged to a patron important enough to compete with popes for the services of the French-born sculptor Monnot, a leading artist in Rome after Bernini's death.
lower right: P.S.MONNOT [P.S. for Pietro Stefano, the Italian version of the artist's given names] / FECIT ROM.1710
Private collection, South America, from the early 20th century; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 11 December 2003, no. 76, as A Carved Marble Rectangular Relief Depicting the Deposition); (Daniel Katz Ltd., London); purchased 26 February 2004 by NGA.
- Penny, Nicholas. "Pierre-Etienne Monnot, The Virgin Mary Swooning over the Dead Body of Christ at the Foot of the Cross." National Gallery of Art Bulletin, no. 32 (Fall 2004): 21-22, repro.