The J. Paul Getty Museum

Descent from the Cross

Object Details


Descent from the Cross


Phillip Roos (German, 1655/1657 - 1706)




about 1696


Pen and brown ink with gray wash over red chalk

Object Number:



34.1 × 23 cm (13 7/16 × 9 1/16 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

After Joseph of Arimathea obtained permission from Pontius Pilate, he and Nicodemus took Christ's body down from the cross and swathed it in strips of linen cloth, with myrrh and aloes to preserve the body. One of the two men kneels on the right, while the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist observe from the left. Although some compositions of the subject also include a crowd of bystanders, Phillip Roos limited his design to the essential figures, thereby focusing attention on the central body of Christ. Roos's frenzied dark lines contribute to the scene's power and drama. He outlined the cross, figures, and drapery using pen and brown ink, before adding sweeping strokes of gray wash to heighten the stormy atmosphere. Scholars previously thought that Roos drew only landscape and animal studies, yet this sheet shows him capable of managing complex figure compositions. As he prominently signed and inscribed the work invinit, a Latin phrase meaning to invent or design, Roos himself was obviously proud of this drawing.

Red Chalk Drawings (March 16 to May 30, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16 to May 30, 1999