The Entombment (recto); Partial Study of the Entombment (verso)
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Anthony van Dyck
Flemish, Antwerp, about 1620
Red chalk, pen and brown ink, and brown and reddish wash heightened with white gouache (recto); black chalk, pen and brown ink, and brown wash (verso); folded twice vertically and six times horizontally

10 x 8 5/8 in.

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Both sides of this sheet show scenes of the Entombment, probably in preparation for a painting that does not survive or was never completed. Anthony van Dyck based his composition on a painting by Titian, which he knew from a copy by Peter Paul Rubens. Van Dyck exchanged Titian's sweeping horizontal composition for a more tightly integrated, vertical format, allowing him to give greater prominence to the shrouded Virgin, who holds the arm of her dead son. The gracefully turning form of Saint John the Evangelist at the center links the two figures flanking Christ.

Van Dyck demonstrated his virtuosity by using a variety of techniques and media in his characteristically intense, heavily washed, and broadly drawn style. After sketching in black chalk, he drew the figures in pen and ink and went over much of the composition with strokes of dark brown wash. He also drew a rough framing line around the composition. The extremely fine pen lines left visible on Christ's torso lend it poignant beauty, while the wash adds drama and movement.

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Verso: Partial Study
Verso: Partial Study