Descent from the Cross
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|Life of Jesus|
according to the Gospels
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The Descent from the Cross (Greek: Ἀποκαθήλωσις, Apokathelosis), or Deposition of Christ, is the scene, as depicted in art, from the Gospels' accounts of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus taking Christ down from the cross after his crucifixion (John 19:38-42). In Byzantine art the topic became popular in the 9th century, and in the West from the 10th century. The Descent from the Cross is the 13th Station of the Cross.
Other figures not mentioned in the Gospels who are often included in depictions of this subject include St. John the Evangelist, who is sometimes depicted supporting a fainting Mary (as in the work below by Rogier van der Weyden), and Mary Magdalene. The Gospels mention an undefined number of women as watching the crucifixion, including the Three Marys, (Mary Salome being mentioned in Mark 15:40), and also that the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene saw the burial (Mark 15:47). These and further women and unnamed male helpers are often shown.
Development of the image
Even in early depictions the details and posing of the composition, and especially the position of Christ's body, are varied. The scene was usually included in medieval cycles of the Life or the Passion of Christ, between the Crucifixion and the Entombment of Christ. The Lamentation of Christ, or Pietà, showing the body of Christ held by Mary, may intervene between these two, and is common as an individual image, especially in sculpture. The Bearing of the body, showing Christ's body being carried to his tomb, and the Anointing of Christ's body, showing the body laid flat on the top of the tomb or a similarly-shaped "anointing-stone" are other scenes that may be shown. This last is especially important in Orthodox art, where it is shown on the Epitaphios.
With the Renaissance the subject became popular for altarpieces, partly because of the challenges of the composition, and the suitability of its vertical shape. The Mannerist version of Rosso Fiorentino is usually regarded as his most important work, and Pontormo's altarpiece is perhaps his most ambitious work. The subject was painted several times by both Rubens and Rembrandt, who repeated one of his paintings (now in Munich) in a large print, his only one to be mainly engraved, as well as making two other etchings of the subject.
- With articles:
- Fra Angelico, Deposition of Christ, executed between 1432 and 1434, now in the National Museum of San Marco, Florence.
- Rogier van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross (ca. 1435, Museo del Prado, Madrid).
- Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Entombment (ca. 1501), now in the National Gallery, London.
- Deposition from the Cross (1528) by Pontormo at the Capponi Chapel in the church of Santa Felicita, in Florence.
- Caravaggio, The Entombment of Christ (1602–1603), now at the Vatican Pinacoteca
- Rubens, The Descent from the Cross (1612–14), at the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp
- David Folley, The Descent From The Cross (1995–1996), now at the Jesus Chapel, St. Andrew's Church, Wickford, Essex.
- Codex Grecus 510 (9th century Byzantine, Bibliothèque nationale, Paris)
- Codex Egberti (ca. 980, Trier city library).
- St Albans Psalter - English Romanesque miniature (ca. 1130-45) 
- Externsteine relief (12th century)
- Toros Roslin (13th century) 
- Byzantine Museum of Kastoria (ca. 1400) 
- Nicolas Mostaert (1579) 
- Rembrandt (1634, Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg)   
- Athens, Benaki Museum No. 3001 (ca. 1700) 
- Gustave Doré 
- Max Beckmann (1917) 
- Enrique Miguel de la Vega 
- Eastern Orthodox Icons of the Descent from the Cross.
- The Antimension 
- Pelplin Zdjecie z Krzyza z Torunia.jpg
Descent from the Cross (1495), from Ss. Johns' church in Toruń.
Diocesan Museum, Pelplin
- Pietro Perugino cat74a.jpg
Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
- Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 071.jpg
Rembrandt van Rijn.
Deposition (1633). Oil on wood. 89.4 × 65.2 cm.
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Deposition. Carved and painted stone.
Church of Santa Teresinha, Porto Alegre, Brazil
- Antonio Ciseri - Il trasporto di Cristo al sepolcro.jpg
The Deposition of Christ (c. 1883)
- Muenster Prozessionsweg M 7297.jpg
Deposition: His body taken down from the cross (modern). Carved stone.
- Ludvig Karsten Nedtagelsen 1925.jpg
Nedtagelsen (Deposition) (1925). Oil on canvas.
- Rossakiewicz Deposition.jpg
Jacek Andrzej Rossakiewicz.
The Deposition (St John Passion - 7) (1990). Oil on canvas, 245 x 140 cm
- Entierro de Cristo (Tiziano).jpg
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- G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, 1972 (English trans from German), Lund Humphries, London, p.164, ISBN 0-85331-324-5