Hans Holbein the Younger’s painting, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, is a lifelike depiction of Christ’s corpse lying in his tomb. Created between 1520 and 1522, this painting brings forth an almost grotesque image where the emaciated body of Lord Jesus Christ appears stretched and lifeless with wounds. Notably, his skin bears a greenish hue that accentuates putrefaction in flesh.
The nakedness of the body except for a loincloth draws attention to spiky bones and stringy muscles that protrude underlifeless skin. Additionally, there is no indication as to who is depicted in this painting as Holbein paints an anonymous criminal whose identity is imposed from an inscription borne by angels. The shocking portrayal challenges onlookers’ faith in resurrection and demands greater devotion.
Holbein was one of the most famous portraitists of the 16th century, known for creating religious art, portraits, satire, and Reformation propaganda. The painting can be viewed at Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland where it continues to uphold its position as one of Holbein’s greatest works.