Descent from the Cross

Descent from the Cross


Adam Lenckhardt

(German, 1610-1661)


Overall: 44.8 x 16.5 x 12.1 cm (17 5/8 x 6 1/2 x 4 3/4 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1967.134

Did you know?

Carved from a single elephant tusk, the artist took special care to ensure the ivory did not crack or break as he meticulously crafted each figure in this visually exciting sculpture. Look closely to find tools and small objects included near its base.


Carved from a single piece of ivory for Prince Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein of Vienna, this work is a true tour-de-force. It took Lenckhardt seven years to complete; it is his last known sculpture and the pinnacle of his career. The biblical accounts of the descent from the cross found in the gospels are not consistent, which may contribute to the difficulty in precisely identifying the figures. The Virgin Mary, Saint John, Mary Magdalene, and others were said to be present, but undoubtedly there are other disciples here mourning Christ’s death. The intense emotion registers on the faces of the figures in the scrupulous and exquisitely detailed work.


Sculpture in Motion, Stories in 3D
Lenckhart's Challenge
Ivory Carving, from Tusk to Sculpture
See also
Type of artwork: 

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