Marco Zoppo, Dead Christ Supported by Angels, and St James Healing the Lame Man, drawings

Italy, around AD 1455-60

These two drawings by Marco Zoppo (about 1432-1478) were produced on very fine vellum a very expensive medium on which to draw. It is possible that the drawings were made for presentation to a patron or as a highly finished drawing in its own right. The artist was known as Zoppo because it is the Italian word for lame.


The body of the dead Christ is supported by four angels, framed in elaborate classical architecture around which putti (little angels) stand or sit. The intensity of the pain and suffering on Christ's face, together with the emotions of the angels, suggest that this was designed as a private work for personal devotion. Most of the drawing was executed in brush, though the architecture and some addition to the faces of the angels are drawn in a fine pen. In particular, Christ's torso is superbly modelled and Zoppo depicts the drapery of the two angels who hold Christ's upper body with great intricacy. Deeper space, too, is shown through the greater use of perspective. Zoppo, who was originally from the area around Bologna, evidently studied the Paduan works of the Florentine sculptor, Donatello (1386-1466), during his brief apprenticeship in the city (around 1453-5).


The drawing shows St James blessing the kneeling figure of the scribe Josiah on his way to martyrdom by the Romans. Zoppo's treatment of this theme is based on Mantegna's contemporary fresco of the subject in the Ovetari chapel, in the church of the Eremitani in Padua (destroyed in 1944), completed in 1457. Although Zoppo's composition is very similar to that of Mantegna, the drawing undermines the religious narrative by showing the figures nude and the inclusion of the savage children fighting and playing on the great triumphal arch behind.

Find in the collection online

Marco Zoppo, Dead Christ Supported by Angels, and St James Healing the Lame Man, drawings

Recto: Dead Christ supported by Angels

  • Verso: St James Healing the Lame Man

    Verso: St James Healing the Lame Man


More information


M. Chapman, Padua in the 1450s: Marco Zopp, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)


Height: 350.000 mm
Width: 280.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1995-5-6-7 (recto and verso)


Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore