(Italian, c. 1430-1495)
(Italian, active 1457-1483)
woven in the workshop of
Wool, silk, gold and silver threads
Overall: 104.2 x 199.4 cm (41 x 78 1/2 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1950.145
A decorative textile suspended along the altar’s
entire front, an altar frontal was often embellished
with gold and silver threads, as seen here. This
rare example depicts the lamentation of Christ,
a common subject in Christian art in which the
body of Christ is mourned after its removal from
the cross. This version is highly acclaimed for its
emotional intensity. Christ’s body is arranged in the
shape of the cross, his shoulder rests on the Virgin’s
knees, Saint John the Evangelist cradles his left arm,
and Mary Magdalene supports his feet. Joseph of
Arimathea carries the three nails with which Christ
This altar cloth was designed by Cosimo Tura who
was employed at the court of Ercole I d’Este, duke
of Ferrara, as a painter, illuminator, and tapestry
designer between 1475 and 1484. His design was
woven by Rubinetto di Francia, who was head of
a large tapestry workshop at Ercole’s court. The
subject of the design would imply its use during
the Easter season.
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