Descent into Limbo

c. 1490–1500
(Italian, 1431–1506)
Sheet: 41.2 x 28.2 cm (16 1/4 x 11 1/8 in.); Mat Size: 56 x 40.7 cm (22 1/16 x 16 in.)
Catalogue raisonné: Hind V(II).19.9a
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This subject, also known as the Harrowing of Hell, recounts Christ’s descent into limbo, the first circle
of hell, to liberate the souls of Old Testament saints. The church taught that those who lived and died
in an era without the Christian sacraments were relegated to a lower place until Christ could come
redeem them. Here Christ, holding the banner of the Resurrection, enters through a doorway. Broken
from its hinges, the door has fallen to the ground over which Christ triumphantly walks. A group of
figures await their redemption, including Adam and Eve to the right. Above, a group of demons
emerge from the cavern, sounding trumpets to announce Christ’s arrival.
Descent into Limbo

Descent into Limbo

c. 1490–1500

Giovanni Antonio da Brescia, Andrea Mantegna

(Italian), (Italian, 1431–1506)
Italy, 15th century

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