More about Lamentation over the Dead Christ


The German Abendzeitung news site headlines an article about Botticelli's Lamentation over the Dead Christ "In the riot of color in the sepulcher."

As with his Birth of Venus, in Lamentation Botticelli shows off his love of loud, flashy colors, but somehow their brightness does not put a damper on the tone of extreme sadness. One thing that the 'color riot' of red and orange robes accomplishes is that it highlights the nudity and emptiness of Christ's lifeless cadaver. 

When you go on a rampage of conquering and pillaging, it's always helpful to enlist the help of local people. That's just what Napoleon did in Firenze when he chose Michele Mazzoni to make him a nice "shopping list" of devotional artworks in the closed monasteries. Mazzoni wasn't about to let a good business opportunity go to waste, so he set his sights on the San Paolino church where he saw a dirty, but excellently rendered painting hanging above the fireplace. Figuring it could be a fixer-upper, he bought it. Then he noticed this Botticelli work on the high altar of the San Paolino. "That one's too good for Napoleon," he said to himself. Mazzoni slyly managed to stay below Napoleon's radar, hiding this work in his stable with the horses for a year.

The horses suggested that he hire Luigi Scotti, one of the best restorers in the city, to take care of all the dust and woodworm. Scotti added a lot of his own artistic flair, which wasn't corrected until recently, but his work nevertheless get the attention of Ludwig I, the King of Bavaria, who added it to the Munich art collection that eventually became part of the Pinakothek. The Oetker Foundation financed the recent extensive restoration of this work, supported by curator Andreas Schumacher.

Botticelli did another version of this scene, which resides in Milan. In order to distinguish this piece from that one, Emile Gebhart and Victoria Charles call it the Lamentation of the Dead Christ with Saints Jerome, Paul and Peter (Pietà).


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Botticelli, Munich)

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, is a painting of the common subject of the Lamentation of Christ by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, finished around 1490–1492. It is now in the Alte Pinakothek, in Munich.

The portrait shows the inert body of Christ surrounded by the Virgin, St. Peter, and Mary Magdalene, St. John the Evangelist, St. Jerome and St. Paul.

The pathetic expressions of the characters were a novelty in Botticelli's art: under the spiritual influence of Savonarola's preachings in Florence, which began around the time the work was executed, he started in fact to abandon the allegoric inspiration that had made him a favourite of the Medici court in favour of more intimate and painstaking religious reflection.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Botticelli, Munich)