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Entombment

Hans Schwarz1516

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This relief presents the Entombment at the centre of an elaborate architectural frame modelled after an Italian Renaissance aedicule. Against a hilly background of rocks and trees, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are laying the body of Christ in a sarcophagus, positioned flush with the horizontal base of the composition. To the rear, Mary is supported by St. John, and to left and right we see two grieving women, the one on the left raising her arms in a gesture of lament. In front of the tomb is Mary Magdalene, the sinner converted by Jesus, kneeling to anoint his hand. The composition is modelled on an engraving of 1509 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, though the lamenting woman also suggests the influence of Italian artists such as Donatello or Verrocchio. In all likelihood, the relief would have been part of an altarpiece for private devotions, probably commissioned by the couple whose portraits appear in the spandrels. It is an early masterpiece by the leading Augsburg carver and medallion artist Hans Schwarz, who confidently perpetuated his own memory by inscribing his initials in the gable.

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