Andrea Mantegna - The Dead Christ

by Alexandra Tuschka


The choice of perspective by the Italian Andrea Mantegna is unusual - it seems as if we are standing at the foot of Jesus' deathbed. The stigmata on the feet and hands are clearly visible. A sheet covers the shame.

In this intimate scene, we are not alone. Three other people mourn the dead man at the edge of the bed - They are Mary Magdalene, the Mother of God and the favorite disciple John.


Mantegna himself had trained on sculpture and already had several decades of professional experience before this painting was created. Perspective foreshortening is the main feature of this well-known work.


Two motifs stand out - the ointment vessel to Jesus' head and the tombstone on which he lies. Due to the conquest of Byzantium by the Ottomans, the Christians also lost the stone located there, on which the Savior was probably laid. Also, at the time of the painting's creation, the popes and preachers were vehemently promoting the reconquest of Constantinople. Sometimes, therefore, an indirect call to crusade is read in the picture.


Andrea Mantegna - The Dead Christ

Tempera on canvas, 1480, 68 x 81 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan

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