The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1521) by Hans Holbein

The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb - Hans Holbein - 1521

Artwork Information

TitleThe Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb
ArtistHans Holbein
MediumOil on Wood
Dimensions30.5 x 200 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationKunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Location Created Germany

About The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb

The artwork titled “The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb” is a poignant religious painting by the German artist Hans Holbein, created in the year 1521. It is executed in the medium of oil on wood, embodying the Northern Renaissance art movement. Measuring 30.5 cm by 200 cm, the artwork conveys a raw and intimate representation of Christ’s mortality. This significant piece of art is currently housed at the Kunstmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland, and was originally created in Germany.

In the artwork, Holbein presents an unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the deceased Christ, lying supine in a wooden tomb. The body is elongated across a chillingly narrow space, accentuating the finality and solitude of death. Christ’s pallor, the subtle hints of rigor mortis in his hands and feet, and the wounds inflicted by the crucifixion are depicted with meticulous attention to detail, underlining the humanity in the divine figure.

Holbein’s mastery of the Northern Renaissance style is evident in the exquisite rendering of textures. The cold, lifeless flesh of Christ is contrasted with the neat folds of the white burial shroud that supports him. The starkly lit corpse casts deep shadows into the confined interior of the tomb, heightening the intensity of the scene.

Beyond its religious significance, the artwork speaks to the themes of mortality and the transient nature of life, inviting viewers to contemplate the physical reality of death, a subject that was increasingly explored during the Renaissance period. Holbein’s commitment to naturalism and his ability to evoke emotional depth have ensured that “The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb” endures as a powerful and moving piece of Renaissance art.

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