Unidentified artist, after Hans Holbein the Younger
German, c. 1497–1543
The Dead Christ in the Tomb, c. 1521
silverpoint, chalk on paper, blue ground
12.8 x 29.4 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from the Women's Committee and Public Subscription, in memory of the late United States President, John F. Kennedy
This powerful image of the dead Christ in the tomb, executed in silverpoint and chalk, is a faithful copy after the life-sized painting by Hans Holbein, which dates to 1521 and is in the Kunstmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland. While the creator of this drawing has not been identified, it is likely that the work was executed by an apprentice or assistant working in Holbein’s workshop. The unforgiving silverpoint technique, used by many Old Master artists including Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo Da Vinci, demanded extraordinary skill and patience. The addition of a blue tinted ground in this drawing adds to the heightened contrast of light and shadow, offering the viewer a study of line, texture, and form, all referencing Holbein’s masterly draftsmanship. Considered one of Holbein’s most striking portraits, the presentation of the entombed body of Christ, rigor mortis set in and the flesh decaying, is intended to stress the miracle of the Resurrection and its imminence.