Giovanni de Vecchi - inv. 4707
The small size of this painting, dated by scholars to 1585–1590, indicates that it was conceived for private worship and meditation.
The half-length Virgin, with youthful facial features, embraces and supports the dead Christ. The close-up viewpoint concentrates on their faces close together. Behind them, two angels carrying two long candles, of which only the flickering flame can be discerned, who are taking part in the tragic moment.
The whole scene is set in half-light except for a narrow view through trees of a hazy valley, present in other early works by the artist. Lacking any form of life and imbued with cold light, deriving from Flemish painting, the slice of landscape gives the scene a desolate and silent air.
Giovanni de’ Vecchi was one of the more remarkable artists of late Roman Mannerism. A pupil of Raffaellino del Colle, he did a lot of work on church and palace decoration, but unfortunately a large part of his production has been lost; what survives shows his full adherence to themes imposed by the Tridentine religious reforms (1545–1563), interpreted in images of vibrant chiaroscuro.