Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels

Pinnacle from an altarpiece

Carlo Crivelli, Italian (active Venice and Marches), first documented 1457, died 1495/1500

Made in The Marches, Italy, Europe

c. 1472

Tempera and tooled gold on panel

28 x 18 5/8 inches (71.1 x 47.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 213a, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 158

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Carlo Crivelli's style is marked by fine draftsmanship and delicate brushwork, combined with a strange, caricatured realism. Here, the detailed depiction of Christ's wounds and his graying skin, along with the angels' tears and anguished expressions, accentuate the horror and sorrow of Christ's suffering and death. This painting was made to be the pinnacle, or crowning element, of an altarpiece.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Carlo Crivelli, originally from Venice, led the life of a successful itinerant painter working along the Italian Adriatic coast. Although his isolation from major artistic centers resulted in a strange style marked by a caricatured realism, Crivelli's training in figure drawing underpinned his permutations of the norm, evident in the precise observation of Christ's anatomy. The nude body racked by the stiffening aftermath of death afforded the artist ample opportunity to demonstrate his taut draftsmanship, and in his detailed depiction of Christ's wounds and his graying skin, the angels' tears, and their anguished expressions. Crivelli displayed his fine brushwork. The artist accentuated the realism of sorrow and death for dramatic effect and because of the painting's original position as the crowning element of an altarpiece. He compensated for the height at which the painting would have been seen by emphasizing the curve and weight of the dead body, which the angels can barely support. Carl Brandon Strehlke, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 166.

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