The Lamentation

Accession Number

The Lamentation

Hans Baldung Grien

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
woodcut on paper

8 ¾ in x 6 in (22.23 cm x 15.24 cm);19 ⅜ in x 14 3/10 in (49.21 cm x 36.35 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Jean Paul Slusser

Label copy
This print showing the dead body of Christ lamented by the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and John the Evangelist was intended for devotional use. This is suggested by the display of instruments of Christ’s Passion in the foreground and by the elimination of landscape elements behind the cropped crosses in the background. Occupying the middle zone are the compressed forms of Christ and the mourners. The latter express intense sorrow through their anguished facial expressions and passionate gestures. We are pulled into the scene by the emotion embodied by these figures as well as by their foreshortening and their low viewpoint. The vigorous cutting of the woodblock, the dense overlapping of figures, and the complex play of light and shadow animate the print. Baldung’s exciting manipulation of line, his dynamic arrangement of figures, and the emotional expression of his figures create a dramatic effect to move the viewer.
Gallery label text by Curator Annette Dixon, April 2002

Subject matter
This woodcut print depicts the Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene lamenting over the body of Christ at the foot of the cross. The Virgin, with her cowl drawn over her head, leans over Christ's body, while John and the Magdalene, wild with grief, sit behind her. The posts of the three crosses and a ladder as well as the feet of the two criminals executed with Christ appear behind this dramatic knot of figures. The nails driven through Christ's hands and feet sit prominently alongside two vessels in the foreground.

Physical Description
Three grief-striken figures lament over the body of a dead man lying on the ground before them. One of these figures, a robed woman who clasps her hands in agony, leans forward to peer into the face of the dead man, who is rendered with dramatic foreshortening. To the left of this woman sits a long-haired man wiping his eyes while another woman with wild unkempt hair seated next to him raises her arms in abject sorrow. Three nails and a pair of vessels sit in the immediate foreground next to the artist's initials "HGB."

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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woodcuts (prints)

& Author Notes

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