The Entombment of Christ

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The entombment of Christ was painted by Caravaggio for the church of Santa Maria, owned by Saint Phillip Neri. The painting is in the counter-reformation style which started roughly around 1520. Italian Art had begun to sink into mannerism by striving for effect and its high sophistication. Pressure from the Catholic Church to put a leash on religious imagery greatly affected Italian art, resulting in decrees concerning religious images during the Council of Trent in the year 1563. This had a significant impact on Church-funded paintings.

Of all paintings done by Caravaggio, this painting is essentially the most monumental. The painting consists of a group of figures and objects that are strictly symmetrical and built up from a stone slab that is jutting from the background in a diagonal alignment. The painting comes from the Chiesa Nuova church altar in Rome and was dedicated to the Pieta. The painting is a lamentation whose focal point is the mourning Mary, mother of Jesus, as well as a secondary event in the descent of Jesus’ corpse from the cross and his entombment. This painting perfectly distinguishes Caravaggio’s work from the Renaissance art, especially in his refusal to portray human beings as heroic, beautiful, and sublime. Instead, Caravaggio preferred to have figures that were bent, stooped, reclining, or cowering. This was in step with the Vatican’s directive to show more human submission to God in their works. Therefore, Caravaggio replaced the statuesque and self confident figures with figures showing subjection and humility to God, in this case, to Jesus himself.

One detail that should be noted in the painting that may seem trivial is that the stone slab appears in the picture with a terrifying power. According to the attitude that one has when viewing this painting, it is possible that one may…...

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