La Déposition de la croix (1627-1628)

Poussin, Nicolas (1594-1665)

La Déposition de la croix (The Descent from the Cross)
Oil on canvas, 120 x 98 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Nicolas Poussin was the leading exponent of the French Classicism of the first half of the 17th century. This is one of Poussin‘s most expressive works, and as in the majority of his paintings on biblical subjects the iconography is rare and unusual, despite the apparently standard subject matter. Close up by the foot of the cross those closest to Jesus are lamenting his death, in a scene combining elements of two separate compositions, The Descent from the Cross, and The Lamentation. St John carefully supports the dead body of the Saviour while Mary leans over her son and weeps sorrowfully. This early work reveals the strong influence of Baroque art, particularly in the sharp contrast between the thunderous black cloud and the white drapery which divides the painting along the diagonal, creating a sense of emotional tension and reinforcing the tragedy of the scene. (SHM)