The J. Paul Getty Museum


Object Details




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


Spanish (Castile)


about 1490–1500


Oil on panel

Object Number:



49.8 × 34.3 cm (19 5/8 × 13 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

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.

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 & Co. (New York) (New York, New York; Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.
Note: as Juan Nuñez

Exposition des Primitifs Français (April 12 to July 14, 1904)
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), April 12 to July 14, 1904

Bouchot, Henri. L'Exposition des primitifs français: La peinture en France sous les Valois (Paris: Librairie centrale des beaux-arts, 1904), unpaginated, text and fig. XC.

Lafenestre, George. L'Exposition des primitifs français (Paris: Imprimerie de la 'Gazette des beaux-arts', 1904), p. 35, ill.

Lafenestre, Georges. "L'Exposition des primitifs français (premier article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 31, no. 563 (May 1904), p. 361, ill.

Vitry, Paul. "L'Exposition des primitifs français." Les Arts 28 (April 1904), pp. 39, 43, ill.

Bouchot, Henri, ed. Exposition des primitifs français au Palais du Louvre (Pavillon de Marsan) et à la Bibliothèque nationale, exh. cat. (Paris: Palais du Louvre and Bibliothèque nationale, 1904), p. 61, no. 135.

Reinach, Salomon. Répertoire de peintures du Moyen-Age et de la Renaissance (1280-1580). 6 vols. (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1905-23), vol. 2 (1907), p. 471, ill.

Jacques, Charles [Charles Sterling]. La peinture française: Les peintres du Moyen Age (Paris: Bibliothèque Française des Arts, with Éditions Pierre Tisné, 1941), Répertoire, p. 60, no. 27.

Sterling, Charles. La peinture française: Les peintres du Moyen Age (Paris: Bibliothèque Française des Arts, with Éditions Pierre Tisné, 1942), Répertoire, p. 62, no. 27.

Schiller, Gertrud. Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst. Vol. 2, Die Passion Jesu Christi (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Mohn 1966; 2nd ed., 1983), pp. 190, 285, no. 610, fig. 610.

Schiller, Gertrud. Iconography of Christian Art. Janet Seligman, trans. Vol. 2, The Passion of Jesus Christ (Greenwich: New York Graphic Society Ltd., 1972), pp. 177, 262, no. 610, fig. 610.

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

Anderson, Barbara. "A Late Fifteenth-Century Spanish 'Pietà' from the Circle of Fernando Gallego." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), pp. 61-74, figs. 1, 3-4, 8-9, 11.

"Principales acquisitions des musées en 1987." La chronique des arts: Supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 111, no. 1430 (March 1988), p. 65.

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.