Pietà

Object Details

Title:

Pietà

Artist/Maker(s):

Circle of Fernando Gallego (Spanish (Castile), about 1440/1445 - about 1507)

Culture:

Spanish (Castile)

Date:

about 1490 - 1500

Medium:

Oil on panel

Dimensions:

49.8 x 34.3 cm (19 5/8 x 13 1/2 in.)

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In this depiction of the lamentation of Christ, Fernando Gallego looked to Northern European paintings for inspiration but included distinctly Spanish elements such as a subdued palette and unidealized figures. Unlike Netherlandish artists who were interested in depicting the natural world in minute detail, Gallego concentrated on the pietà's psychological and emotional impact, eliminating extraneous or distracting elements.

The Virgin Mary sits in front of the cross, gazing at her dead son in her lap. On the ground around them are several pebbles, a bone, and a skull. A lance and a rod with attached sponge, two instruments from the Passion, lean perfectly vertically against the cross, which is inscribed with the initials i.n.r.i. Behind the cross a rocky landscape overlooks a Gothic walled town, settled between a body of water and verdant countryside that stretches into the far distance.

Gallego focused on the moment after the Crucifixion when overwhelming anguish gave way to resigned misery, the sentiment evident in the grief-stricken face of the Virgin, flushed and swollen from weeping. Christ's broken and emaciated body, his eyes unseeing, stretches awkwardly across her lap. Their exaggerated and unidealized features intensify the pathos central to the theme of the pietà.

Provenance
by 1904 - 1934

Baron Michele Lazzaroni, 1863 - 1934 (Paris, France; Rome, Italy), by inheritance to his wife, Maddalena Lazzaroni.

1934 - about 1945

Baroness Maddalena Lazzaroni (Villa Romain, Nice, France)

by 1968 - 1985

Wildenstein & Company (New York, New York; Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Exhibitions
Exposition des Primitifs Français (April 12 to July 14, 1904)
  • Musée du Louvre, (Paris), April 12 to July 14, 1904, (Cat. 135)
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 214, no. 116, ill. (85.PB.267) (attributed to Juan Nunez, around 1480-1490).

Carr, Dawson W., and Mark Leonard. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, with British Museum Press, 1992), pp. 42-43, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 47, ill.