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Dead Christ with Two Angels

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Title Dead Christ with Two Angels
Material and technique Black chalk, heightened with white, squared, on discoloured blue paper
Object type
Drawing > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 268 mm
Width 246 mm
Artists : Leandro Bassano (Leandro da Ponte)
Draughtsman: Francesco Bassano (Francesco da Ponte)
Previously attributed: Andrea Schiavone (Andrea Meldolla)
Accession number I 62 (PK)
Credits Loan Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (former Koenigs collection), 1940
Department Drawings & Prints
Acquisition date 1940
Creation date in circa 1580-1622
Inscriptions ‘B.B.no: 10’ (verso, centre, pen and brown ink)
Collector Collector / Franz Koenigs
Mark Z. Sagredo (L.2103a), inv. B.B. no: 10, F.W. Koenigs (L.1023a)
Provenance Zaccaria Sagredo (1653-1729, L.2103a, inv. 'B.B. no: 10'), Venice; - ; Franz W. Koenigs (1881-1941, L.1023a), Haarlem, acquired in 1927 (Francesco Montemezzano, corrected to Francesco Bassano); D.G. van Beuningen (1877-1955), Rotterdam, acquired with the Koenigs Collection in 1940 and donated to Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Research Italian Drawings 1400-1600
Literature Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, no. 219 (possibly Leandro Bassano); Arslan 1960, p. 368 (possibly Gerolamo Bassano)
Highlight > Painting technique > Technique > Material and technique
Squared > Squaring > Drawing technique > Technique > Material and technique
Squared > Squaring > Drawing technique > Technique > Material and technique
Geographical origin Italy > Southern Europe > Europe
Place of manufacture Venice > Veneto region > Italy > Southern Europe > Europe

Entry catalogue Italian Drawings 1400-1600

Author: Klazina Botke

Devotional images of the dead Christ, often shown half length, have their origins in the late Middle Ages. They were designed to encourage meditation on his suffering and death. In this study we see Christ’s lifeless body resting on a shroud on the edge of his tomb, supported by two angels who lift him up gently so that we can clearly behold his body. It is interesting to note that the wounds left on the body by the crucifixion are not depicted, although they would have emphasized his suffering even more graphically.

The work comes from the collection of the renowned collector Zaccaria Sagredo (1653-1729), as evidenced by the ‘Sagredo number’ written in pen and ink on the verso of the sheet (B.B.no:10). The B.B. stands for Bottega Bassanese, the Bassano family’s workshop in Venice.[1] When Franz Koenigs bought the drawing in 1927, however, it was attributed to the Veronese painter Francesco Montemezzano (1555-1602). Soon afterwards Anna Koenigs corrected this to Francesco Bassano (1549-1592).[2] Tietze/Tietze-Conrat, though, believed that the style of the drawing corresponded more closely to the work of his younger brother Leandro (1557-1622), particularly in comparison with a drawing in London, which is certainly by him.[3] This preliminary study in black chalk, made for a lost altarpiece (1619-1622) for the church of Santa Lucia in Venice, depicts five saints and a group of angels.[4] We see here how the same use of strong outlines in black chalk and the figures’ round faces, like the long fingers, particularly evident in Christ’s left hand, correspond. Tietze/Tietze-Conrat were especially struck by resemblances between the angels in the two drawings, although it should be noted that the angels in the London drawing were clearly set down more swiftly and were less worked out.

The study is squared so that the composition can be transferred, possibly to a canvas or other support. In Cleveland there is a painting by Leandro with the dead Christ and two angels attending the body, but the positions of the figures in our drawing differ from this too much for it to be a direct preliminary study for that work.[5] Our composition is more akin to a work by Andrea Schiavone (1510-1563) in Dresden, which is why Van Regteren Altena even proposed him as the sheet’s draughtsman.[6] Given that the study clearly links stylistically with Bassano’s work, this does not seem very likely. The sheet could perhaps be a preparatory study for another work by Leandro, or an earlier version of the composition in Cleveland.


[1] See also Lugt Online, 2103a.

[2] Lütjens c.1928-35; note in Anna Koenigs’s handwriting.

[3] Tietze/Tietze-Conrat 1944, p. 57. See also British Museum, inv. Ff,1.72.

[4] Leonardi 1986, pp. 221-23.

[5] Cleveland Art Museum, inv. Holden Collection 1916.806. There are other versions of this painting in the collections of the Galleria Colonna in Rome and the Museo Civico in Bassano del Grappa.

[6] Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, inv. Gal.-Nr. 274. See comment in Lütjens c.1928-35.

Show research Italian Drawings 1400-1600
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Leandro Bassano (Leandro da Ponte)

Bassano 1557 - Venetië 1622

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