UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish
(active around 1460 in Brussels)
Oil on oak panel, 57 x 52 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
With the body of Christ still on the Cross high above the scene, this picture, presumably painted in Brussels, shows the Deposition in a more traditional way than Rogier's famous version (Prado, Madrid). On the right are the centurion who recognized the Son of God, and his followers; it is not clear which of the two figures in the foreground is actually the centurion, since they are both making gestures that would be suitable for him.
The artist who painted this small Deposition used figures from Rogier van der Weyden's great painting for the body of Christ and for Nicodemus, and drawing on other works by Rogier van der Weyden and by the Master of Flémalle for the remaining figures. The group of the Virgin and St John, for instance, was taken from the Seven Sacraments Altarpiece (Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp). However, the painter of this Deposition fails to unite the groups of figures successfully.
The small panel of the Deposition, certainly not painted before the middle of the century, seems to have found its way quite early to southern Germany, where parts of it were already being copied in 1465 (Hof Altarpiece by Hans Pleydenwurff in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich). Like the composition of the Descent from the Cross, probably of roughly the same date, it is a relatively early example of the work of independent artists who picked up ideas from Rogier, imitating his style as best they could.