Rogier van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross (1435)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

This is a beautiful painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464). Depicted is a traditional scene of the crucified Christ who is lowered from the cross. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are holding the body of Christ. The other persons on the painting are (from left to right): Mary Cleophas , Saint John the Evangelist, Mary Salome (in green), Mary (swooning), the body of Christ, an unknown person on the ladder, probably Joseph of Arimathea (in red and black clothing), probably Nicodemus (in the in field-of-cloth-of-gold robes), unknown person with a jar and Mary Magdalene. The identification of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are disputed, some identify them the other way around (Joseph of Arimathea being the person in the field-of-cloth-of-gold robes). This altarpiece was commissioned by the archers civic guard (guild) of Leuven. the T-shape of the painting reflects a crossbow, the weapon of the members of that guild. Painting from 1435.

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