(b. 1490/95, Toledo, d. 1550, Granada)


Oil on panel, 141 x 128 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Returning to Spain from Rome, where he lived for a time, Machuca produced exotic, hybrid paintings that place a higher value on expression than on correctness. His Deposition is thought to have been painted in the early 1520s, although on its original frame it is indicated that the altarpiece was ordered by Doña Inés de Castillo, and it was finished in 1547.

In this picture the Italian veneer is starting to wear thin as the figures grow flatter, their anatomy more schematic than in his earlier paintings. At the same time, the facial expressions are more intense, as in the centre group, where St Mary Magdalene, waiting to receive Christ's body, and the man at the foot of the cross, who holds the corps, open their mouths wide, emitting almost audible sounds of grief. The group at the right is a jumble of strange types - a soldier in full armour, an old man in a tall fur hat with a conspicuous grimace on his face, a youth in short pants, standing self-consciously with a hand on his hip, a little boy wearing a kerchief around his head and tied beneath his chin, as if he had a toothache. Under the dark, midnight sky, the scene of death acquires a peculiar intensity.