In this stark, poignant drawing, Henri Lehmann concentrated on capturing the dramatic emotions of the mourners grieving over Christ's death. The immediate focus of attention, the Virgin Mary swoons in a faint at the foot of the cross, surrounded by Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, and several other women. The drapery swirling around the cross and the various gestures and expressions of grief emphasize the scene's pathos. The tip of a spear, the crown of thorns, and four nails on the ground beneath the Virgin's hands signify the implements of Christ's suffering.
Lehmann's strong vertical composition, with figures wrapped around the foot of the central cross, anchors the scene. In sharp contrast to the dark gray wash on the other figures, he used large amounts of white chalk highlighting on and around the Virgin's face. He made this study as one of the last stages in his preparation for a painting in a Paris chapel.