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The Lamentation of Christ, 1505-1530

Master of the Mansi-Magdalena
Dutch, active c.1510-25
Oil on panel
panel: 21-1/4 x 25-1/2 in. (54.0 x 64.8 cm); painted surface: 20-3/4 x 24-3/4 in. (52.7 x 62.9 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Over the course of the 150 years or more that this painting was in the Lyversberg collection in Cologne, this Lamentation was variously attributed to Jan van Scorel (1495–1562), Quentin Massys (1492–1562), Jan Massys (1509–1575), and finally to an anonymous follower of Quentin’s known as the Master of the Mansi Magdalena. Fewer than two dozen paintings have now been attributed to the hand of this unidentified artist, whose sobriquet derives from a painting depicting Mary Magdalene that was formerly in the collection of Giovanni Battista Mansi of Lucca and is today in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.

The tightly confined space of the Simon panel emphasizes the grief shared by the Virgin and her attendants, who respond to the broken body of Christ with a variety of expressions. The stoic figure of Nicodemus appears in profile on the left, cradling a container of salve. Next to him Joseph of Arimathea, portrayed with wide, reddened eyes, supports the shoulders of the dead Christ as he looks out toward the viewer with an expression of restrained sadness. Behind the Magdalene and Virgin Mary, who quietly cast their eyes down toward the body of Christ as tears run down their cheeks, another woman holds her hand to her face as she weeps. His head tilted back as if to fit within the panel, John the Evangelist stands behind the Virgin, gently supporting her left arm; his furrowed brow, strained expression, and the tears from his reddened eyes reveal his anguish. Ultimately, the individualistic, almost caricature-like faces and the emotional impact of the figures reveal the Master of the Mansi Magdalena’s indebtedness to Quentin Massys.

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