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The Deposition
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Spitz Master
French, Paris, about 1420
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
7 15/16 x 5 7/8 in.
MS. 57, FOL. 181V

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In the miniature of the Deposition, the Virgin Mary, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and Jesus' other followers stand and kneel in a shallow, stagelike space before a flat, textile-patterned background whose richness contributes to the image's ceremonial quality. The miniature introduces a verse meditation on the Virgin's experience of the Crucifixion, the moving prayer known from its opening lines as the Stabat Mater. Arranged symmetrically around Jesus, his followers lower his crucified body from the cross. In concert they present his limp, lifeless form to the viewer as an object for veneration. Despairing angels in the borders grieve over Christ's death.

The artist's inclusion of naturalistic effects counters the artifice of the theatrical composition. He enveloped the figures in voluminous draperies that fall to the ground in heavy folds suggesting body mass. The artist transmitted a sense of the weight of Jesus' dead body by depicting its effect on the figure in green on the right, who buckles under the strain as he tries to support it.