Hendrick Goltzius (copy by) - inv. 3218
The scene is set in a rocky cavern: in the middle, the body of the dead Christ is held up by Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and others. Women weep around them, with Mary Magdalene crouching on the ground holding Christ’s hand and Saint John the Evangelist drying his eyes with a cloth. Two country people and two children watch the scene from the entrance to the cave.
The painting is a copy of an engraving by Hendrick Goltzius, dated 1596, which is part of a series of twenty illustrating the Passion of Our Lord, realised between 1596 and 1598.
Goltzius was a great master of engraving, famous both in Holland and in Italy, which he visited in 1591. In Rome, the preferred destination for northern artists, Goltzius devoted himself with much zeal to reproducing the most important classical works in drawings, which, in some cases, would lead to engravings. His greatness lies in his ability to render the shapes and volumes of ancient statues with his burin; many drawn portraits can also be found in his oeuvre with an extremely delicate touch.
Our painting, probably the work of a Flemish artist, faithfully reproduces the engraving it derives from, even in its size. The range of light colours has a base of grey-green against which the bright pinks and reds stand out.
Various other copies exist of Goltzius’s engraving, realised mainly in Flemish and Dutch regions.