Sculpted oak statuary group from the Flanders region, circa 1470, representing the Descent from the Cross.
Nicodemus in the background, mounted on a ladder, with the strength of his arms descends the body of Christ taken in by the kneeling Virgin and Joseph of Arimathea on the right.
Standing on either side of the stage we can make out Mary Magdalene holding the ointment jar and a holy woman, her hands clasped in prayer.
The whole is built on a terrace engraved with zigzag patterns.
The quality of execution of this group of altarpieces - the gentle expression of the faces, the balance and position of the bodies, the drapes with broken folds - testifies to the great mastery of the master sculptors of the late Middle Ages in the Pays -Low.
Dimensions H. 42 cm x W. 33.5 cm x D. 14 cm
Flanders Circa 1470
The descent from the cross is the episode which immediately follows the Crucifixion and appears in the four Gospels. Joseph of Arimathea, a rich and respected man, member of the Sanhedrin (the legislative assembly of the Jews in Jerusalem) and disciple of Jesus in secret, obtained from the Roman governor Pilate the authorization to take the body down from the cross. He took the shroud away and, helped by Nicodemus who brought myrrh and aloe to embalm the body, he took Jesus down from the cross and wrapped him, with the spices, in strips of cloth. Joseph and Nicodemus can be distinguished by clothing. The former is often richly and elegantly dressed, perhaps even wearing a hat; The second, on the contrary, is put much more modestly.
(Ref: Dictionary of myths and symbols - James Hall - Ed Gérard Montfort)
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