115 1/4 x 79 1/2 in. (292.7 x 201.9 cm)
(Naples, Italy, 1634 - 1705, Naples, Italy)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Marion Stratton Gould Fund, Maurice R. and Maxine B. Forman Fund, Gallery Purchase Fund, gift of Whitney F. Hoyt, by exchange, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hollister Spencer, by exchange
Location: Currently on view
Originally an altarpiece, this painting illustrates the New Testament scene of the Entombment of Christ, one of the most emotional and dramatic events in the Christian faith. Joseph of Arimathea, who is holding Jesus and clasping him in a shroud, and Nicodemus, who supports Jesus’ legs, are placing him in a stone sarcophagus. Saint John the Evangelist, cloaked in red, is in the foreground with his back to the viewer. Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary, dressed in a blue robe, collapses in despair at the left. She is surrounded by Holy Women, including Mary Magdalene who wrings her hands in sorrow. Other grieving figures in the background of the painting engage each other in conversation, enhancing both the devotional and dramatic character of the painting.
Luca Giordano was one of the most celebrated artists in Naples. He produced a huge quantity of work, including altarpieces, mythological paintings and decorative fresco cycles. Giordano was internationally successful and traveled widely, working in Naples, Venice, Florence and Madrid. This altarpiece was painted early in Giordano’s career when he was only in his late teens. It shows the influence of the equally well-known and prolific painter Jusepe de Ribera, with whom he may have trained.