German, 15th century
The Lamentation, c. 1500
49.2 x 113 x 4 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with the assistance of the Women's Committee, The Winnipeg Foundation and an anonymous donor
The Lamentation, or the mourning of the dead Christ, became an established and popular devotional subject during the Middle Ages, particularly in southern Germany where this work was likely produced. German artists from this period had a preoccupation with the tragic physical aspects of Christ’s life and death. This polychrome carving was originally part of a larger altarpiece where it would have functioned as the predella or base. The scene presents the lifeless and bleeding body of the crucified Christ laid upon a cloak. He is supported by his mother Mary at the centre, John the Evangelist at his head, and Mary Magdalene who is seen weeping at his feet. The gentle faces and gestures of the three figures evoke a meditational compassion that is heightened by the deeply carved folds of drapery, which are painted gold and red, uniting the three mourners.