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In the north Italian city of Padua, a major center of Renaissance bronze production, Riccio stood out as the most brilliant master. The Entombment of Christ is a recurring subject in his reliefs. This is his largest single relief and his masterpiece on the theme.


Riccio modeled his crowd of mourners in such high relief that many emerge almost as separate statuettes. To an astonishing degree, space penetrates the crowd and the landscape, flowing behind the freestanding trees. People of all ages join in the funeral procession, their faces and costumes rendered with strength and precision. Their expressions range from stoic sorrow to wild outbursts, with streaming hair, gesticulating arms, and mouths open in howls. These frantic attitudes had precedents in the art of antiquity and in the works of Donatello and his pupil Bellano that Riccio could see in Padua. The scene also recalls the funeral of the mythological hero Meleager, depicted on many Roman sarcophagi and recommended to artists by the theorist Alberti as a convincing portrayal of a dead man weighing down his bearers.


The man just in front of Christ's feet carries an urn inscribed AERDNA, "Andrea" spelled backwards. The presence of this barely disguised signature has led to speculation that the artist intended this relief to mark his own tomb.

Details

  • Title: The Entombment
  • Creator: Andrea Briosco, called Riccio
  • Date Created: 1516/1520s
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 50.4 x 75.5 cm (19 13/16 x 29 3/4 in.) gross weight: 53180 gr (117.241 lb.)
  • Provenance: Vicomte Isidore-Hippolyte de Janzé [1790–1865], Paris; (his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 16 April 1866, no. 38); (Couvreur);[1] Louis-Charles Timbal [1821–1880], Paris; sold 29 November 1872 with his collection to Gustave Dreyfus [1837–1914], Paris; his estate; purchased 1930 with the entire Dreyfus collection by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1944 to the Samuel H. Kress Collection, New York; gift 1957 to NGA. [1] The Janzé sale information was kindly provided by Marie-Amélie Carlier, e-mail of 12 October 2007 to Nicholas Penny, in NGA curatorial files.
  • Medium: bronze

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