Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints Francis and Bernardine of Siena

Cima da Conegliano

Conegliano, c.1459 – c.1517


Oil on wooden panel, 136 x 109cm

This panel (c.1495-1505) was commissioned by Alberto III Pio, Prince of Carpi, for his own funeral chapel in the Franciscan Chiesa di San Niccolò. It stayed there until the mid-1600s when it was purchased by Francesco I d’Este for his collection. 

It was probably Cima’s cultivated client who dictated the unusual iconography of the painting, which is rare visual interpretation of the theme of the Compassio of Mary (the Virgin’s participation in the Passion of Christ) centered upon the mirrored figures of the dead Christ and the sorrowful Mother. Cima masterfully transforms an abstract theological concept in the ordering principle of his painting, gathering male saints around the figure of Christ whilst surrounding the Virgin with the other Marys. He also expressed the spiritual nature of the painting with his signature stylistic traits: pervasive luminosity, realism and restrained expressivity of faces, and naturalism of gestures.