Virgin Mourning the Dead Christ

Object Details


Virgin Mourning the Dead Christ


Cesare Targone (Italian, active late 16th century)




Venice, Veneto, Italy (Place created)


1586 - 1587; frame & box about 1850


Repoussé gold relief on obsidian background (in a black and gold wood frame of circa 1850)


28.9 x 26 cm (11 3/8 x 10 1/4 in.)

See more

See less

Clasping her hands to her chest, the grieving Virgin Mary looks upon the naked body of the dead Christ. His muscular figure reclines on a cloth stretched out upon a rocky ground. Swathed in heavy drapery, the Virgin, looking aged and worn, sways back as she tilts her head forward. Silhouetted against the dark, empty background, she gives visual expression to the emotional poignancy of the scene.

Sculptor Cesare Targone rejected the traditional narrative emphasis of images of the grieving Virgin. He eliminated almost all references to the Crucifixion or Christ's other mourners, focusing solely on the Virgin Mary's sorrow, which then becomes a model for the viewer's response to the dead Christ.

This devotional object, made of finely chased embossed gold on black obsidian, may have originally been set into a tabernacle door above an altar.

- 1912

Sir Julius Charles Wernher, 1850 - 1912 (London, England), by inheritance to his son, Sir General Harold Wernher, 1912.

1912 - 1950

Sir Major General Harold Wernher, 1893 - 1973 (London, England) [sold, Christie's, London 16 November 1950, lot 157, to "Wein," probably for David Black.]

1950 -

David Black (London, England), by inheritance to his son, Bernard Black.

- 1984

Bernard Black (Monte-Carlo, Monaco), sold through Black-Nadeau Ltd. to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.


Middeldorf, Ulrich. "In the Wake of Guglielmo della Porta." Connoisseur 194 (February 1977) pp. 75-76.

Jestaz, Bertrand. "Le décor mobilier, la sculpture moderne et les objets d'art." Le Palais Farnèse: École française de Rome, vol. 1, pt. 2 (Rome, 1981) p. 407, n. 68.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985) pp. 256-57, no. 251, ill.

Bremer-David, Charissa et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993) p. 194, no. 330.

Jestaz, Bertrand. I Farnese: Arte e collezionismo, exh. cat. L. Fornari Schianchi and N. Spinosa, eds. (Parma: Palazzo Ducale di Colorno, 1995) pp. 376-78.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 51, ill.

Fusco, Peter, Peggy Anne Fogelman, and Marietta Cambareri. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: European Sculpture (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998) pp. 38-39, no. 10, ill., entry by Marietta Cambareri.

Fogelman, Peggy and Peter Fusco with Marietta Cambareri. Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002) pp. 108-15, no. 14.

Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2002) pp. 108-115, ills. 14, 14B, 14F.

Gasparotto, Davide. "The Power of Invention: Goldsmiths and Disegno in the Renaissance." In Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini. Sculptor's drawings from Renaissance Italy, exh. cat. Michael W. Cole (Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2014) pp. 51-53, fig. 26 p. 53.