- Museum number
Descent from the Cross; Nicodemus on a ladder lowering the body of Christ, the Virgin kissing his hand at right, St Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist behind, with Joseph of Arimathaea supporting Christ's legs at left; a (larger) bearded head in top right corner. c.1500
Brush drawing in black ink and some brown ink (bearded head in top right), heightened with white (oxidised), on a sheet of cast gelatine (for tracing), coated with linseed oil (?), laid down
- Production date
- 1500-1505 (c.)
Height: 262 millimetres
Width: 186 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing on a thin sheet of transparent gelatine (wrongly described by Popham as on vellum) corresponds almost exactly to a painting by the Workshop of Gerard David, with the composition in reverse. It was probably traced from the panel painting sold on 27 April 2007 at Christie's, London (lot 4; arched composition; formerly in the collection of Joachim Carvallo and Paris and the P T Grange collection in London); see also M. Ainsworth, 1998, fig.136. A smaller version of this 'Deposition' is now in the Uffizi, Florence, inv.no.1152 (arched panel, with St Mary Magdalene moved to the bottom of the composition) and a larger composition which is slightly different (containing eight figures) is in the Frick Collection, New York, inv.no.1915.1.33 (painted on linen and dated 1495-1500; a copy is in the Uffizi, Florence, inv.no.5910).
The gelatine sheet is stuck down on a support (difficult to determine, either paper or vellum) with glue; the ink lines being drawn on the underside of our sheet (which explains why the composition is in reverse to the known painted versions).
The yellow colour might be a discoloration of either the gelatine or the glue. Cennini suggests to coat the gelatine sheets with linseed oil for a better durability. The gelatine could also have been varnished later with a sort of gum arabic in a way to preserve it better.
Ainsworth notes a sponge mark in the top right of our sheet and explains the streaks as the result of a procedure to maybe moisten the sheet in order to facilitate the transfer of the design for another painted version in David's workshop. This drawing could thus have acted as a pattern, possibly a tracing or even offset (counterproof) taken from an earlier inked prototype (for instance another drawing, a painting or a tracing).
It is apparent that the body of Christ in our drawing is more worked up than the other figures and Popham describes the stippled technique used for the body as reminiscent of the workshop of Hugo van der Goes. It is possible that the other figures are only rendered in outline because they were meant to be depicted slightly different in the additional painted versions anyway.
Literature: Maryan W. Ainsworth, 'Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition', New York, 1998, pp.125-133, fig.135 (as Workshop of Gerard David).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: C,07.216