- Museum number
Dead Christ supported by putti; the figure of Christ is being held up before being placed in a tomb, set in front of an architectural niche. c.1455-57
Brush and brown wash, pen and brown ink, red wash, on vellum
Verso: St James healing the lame man; the group with the saint is to the right of the composition, set beside a triumphal arch, in front of which stands a male figure, with all figures nude except the lame man
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
- Production date
Height: 350 millimetres
Width: 280 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The attribution to Zoppo was first advanced by K.T. Parker and J. Byam Shaw in their catalogue entry on the drawing in the 1953 exhibition. Alfred Scharf cast doubt on this idea in his review, but all subsequent authorities have accepted it as Zoppo's earliest drawing c. 1455-60 soon after establishing himself as an independent artist after his break with his former master Squarcione in Padua. This dating is supported by the parallels between the figures in the drawing, especially the putti, and those in Zoppo's painting of the 'Madonna and Child' in the Louvre of c. 1455; and the verso composition is based on Mantegna's fresco 'St James on his way to execution' in the Ovetari chapel in the church of the Eremitani, Padua, finished in 1457. The influence of Mantegna, who was, like Zoppo, a pupil of Squarcione and of Donatello's 'Pietà' relief on the altar of the Church of the Santo in Padua is marked, and the drawing well illustrates the effect of Paduan art on Zoppo during his one or two-year stay in the city.
The function of such a highly finished drawing is unclear, perhaps the most likely explanation is that it was created specifically to demonstrate to prospective clients the artist's ingenuity and inventive powers.
Lit.: A. Scharf, 'The Exhibition of Old Master Drawings at the Royal Academy', 'The Burlington Magazine', XCV, November 1953, p. 352; E. Ruhmer, 'Marco Zoppo', Vicenza, 1966, pp. 29-30, 60-1, figs. 7-10; L. Armstrong, 'The Paintings and Drawings of Marco Zoppo', New York, 1976, pp. 56-72, 392, no. D.1, figs. 35-6; C. Schmidt, 'Una "meditazione sul Cristo morto" di Marco Zoppo' in B.G. Vidi (ed.), 'Marco Zoppo e il suo tempo, Atti del convegno internazionale', Bologna, 1993, p. 140, recto illustrated p. 138; H. Chapman, in exhib. cat., BM, 'Padua in the 1450s: Marco Zoppo and his Contemporaries', 1998, no. 8 (with further bibliography); H. Chapman, 'An early drawing by Marco Zoppo', in A. De Nicolò Salmazo (ed.), 'Francesco Squarcione, "Pictorum Gymnasiarcha Singularis", Atti delle Giornate di Studio, Padova 10-11 febbraio 1998', Padua, 1999, pp. 207-15; G. Agosti, in exhib. cat., Florence, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, 'Disegni del Rinascimento in Valpadana', 2001, under no. 1, pp. 78 and 80; C. Van Cleave, 'Master Drawings of the Italian Renaissance', London, 2007, p. 68, illustrated p. 69
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1953, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 'Old Master Drawings', no.120 (as 'North Italian School')
1997, Jan, London, Christies, 'NACF'
1998, BM, 'Padua in the 1450s', no.8
2003/4 Oct-Jan, London, Hayward Gallery, 'Saved! 100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund', no.183
2018-2019 1 Oct-27 Jan, London, National Gallery, Mantegna and Bellin
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
Purchased by private treaty sale with assistance from NACF (£100,000) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (£245,000). The drawing was purchased by Colnaghi's from D. Giese in 1937 and had previously been in Germany.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number