The Deposition
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Master of Mary of Burgundy
Flemish, about 1471
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, silver paint, and ink on parchment
2 1/2 x 1 13/16 in.
MS. 37, FOL. 111V

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Immediately after the Crucifixion, Jesus' followers take his body down from the cross. Two men on ladders lower the body while Joseph of Arimathea, in his fur-trimmed robe, sways under the weight. The sumptuously dressed Mary Magdalene holds a ladder, while the more modestly dressed Virgin collapses on the ground with grief. At the foot of the cross, a skull identifies the site as the Mount of Golgotha. This moving image of the Deposition is attributed to the Vienna Master of Mary of Burgundy, an anonymous illuminator who collaborated on this prayer book for Charles the Bold. In the border, amidst lush vines, Adam and Eve mourn over the dead body of Abel on the lower left in an Old Testament episode, considered a prefiguration of the Virgin mourning over Jesus' body. The lion in the upper left may refer to Jesus as the Lion of Judah; it may also refer to the Resurrection, because, according to medieval legend, lion cubs were born dead but revived three days later when their father breathed into their faces. Conceived as a thematic whole, the miniature and border herald the service of Vespers in the Hours of the Passion.