This sculpture is one of the earliest objects in this part of the collection. It demonstrates a new way of representing the suffering Christ, who has just been taken down from the cross. Although Christ’s blood and pain is apparent, previous depictions of the subject tended to communicate overt suffering, whereas in this example the figures have elegant, elongated limbs which suggest a courtly beauty rather than a realistic portrayal of death. It is an example of the ‘horizontal pietà’ type, in which Christ’s body lies across his mother’s knees. As well as being a devotional image, this piece would have been understood as a crucifixion scene, indicated by the drops of blood on Mary’s veil, as if falling from the cross above.
Vesperbild or Pietà 1410-20 © Compton Verney