Pieta, or Lamentation of Christ by El Greco

Pieta, or Lamentation of Christ by El Greco

“Pieta,” or “Lamentation of Christ,” was created by the young Domenico Theotokopuli, known to us under the name El Greco, during his stay in Rome. In many ways this picture resembles an unfinished sculpture by Michelangelo, which is called “Pieta with Nicodemus”, or “Pieta Bandini”, now stored in the Florence Cathedral.

Three embrace the dead Jesus Christ: Our Lady, Mother of Christ, Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea. In the same compact group of four figures, tragic expressiveness and passionate spirituality reaches its apogee. If Michelangelo achieves a dramatic effect by plastic means, then El Greco uses in the painting more abrupt transitions of colors. In order to convey the depth of feelings, the artist combined the sharper colors, characteristic of Roman artists, with a wider palette of Venetian style.

In the background, the master painted a landscape with Mount Calvary – the place of the crucifixion of the Messiah. There are three crosses on the mountain, for Christ and the two thieves, who were executed together. The ravenous skies also mourn the death of the innocent Lamb of God.

It is believed that in his painting “Lamentation of Christ” El Greco used as a model not only the sculptural group “Pieta Bandini” by Michelangelo. The position of the feet and hands of the dead Christ, lifelessly saggy, resembles a Figure executed by Michelangelo at the request of Vittoria Colonna. And in the figure of Buonarroti, as in the picture of Domenico, the Mother of God rises above the drooping figure of the Son of God, supported from both sides.

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