The history of writing this unusual work is unknown to us. Before Holbein, the plot “Christ in a tomb” was developed by other artists, but none of them depicted the dead Jesus so realistically.
According to a long tradition, the painters wrote Christ in a coffin from the dead – Holbein, true to this tradition, also took advantage of the nature that the drowned man from the Rhine served for him. For the first time the picture is mentioned in the inventory compiled in 1586. On the canvas itself, above the foot of Christ, Holbein’s initials are indicated and the date for the creation of the painting is “MDXXI”.
By the way, the study of work in X-rays revealed another “I” number next to it, so a number of researchers date it to 1522. The artist during the work on the picture barely exceeded twenty, and one can only marvel at the unsurpassed skill with which this famous work was created. “Dead Christ” at one time made a huge impression on FM Dostoevsky and became a kind of tuning fork of the novel “Idiot”, where this canvas is repeatedly mentioned.
Dostoevsky expressed his attitude to Holbein’s work through the words of Prince Myshkin, who exclaimed: “But from this picture, in another, faith can disappear!” These words are often remembered, wanting to prove that the only topic of the picture. – this is mortal terror. But another motivation is also possible – perhaps, so “harshly” depicting the dead Christ, Holbein prepared the viewer for the picture of the Resurrection, which would tell him that such a terrible death is overcome by hot faith.