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Lamentation

body christ figures century

Closely related to the images of the *Deposition and *Entombment of *Christ, the Lamentation over the dead body of Christ develops as an independent image in Byzantine art of the eleventh century. Although not specifically described in the Gospel narratives, the event was detailed in apocryphal works such as the Acts of Pilate and later developed in works such as the * Meditationes vitae Christi and numerous other mystical and devotional compositions. The scene is extracted from representations showing the bearing of the body of Christ to the tomband depicts mourning figures surrounding the body as it is momentarily laid on the ground. The figures may include Saint *John the Evangelist (often holding one of Christ’s hands, as in Deposition scenes), *Nicodemus and *Joseph of Arimathea, additional women (often including *Mary Magdalene), and the Virgin *Mary, clasping the upper part of Christ’s body, frequently pressing her face against his in an expression of deep grief. *Angels are often present as well as additional mourners, kneeling, seated, or standing around the body. Sometimes the *cross is indicated in the background. The image is found in western art from the twelfth century but develops especially in the fourteenth century. Varying degrees of emotion are conveyed, from controlled and contemplative to violent grief, with figures and angels weeping and gesticulating. The * Pietà (Mary alone with the dead body of Christ) is a reduced and focused version of this theme designed for pious contemplation.
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