(b. 1450, Citta della Pieve, d. 1523, Perugia)
Dead Christ with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (Sepulcrum Christi)1494-98
Oil and tempera on panel, transferred to fabric on panel, 93 x 72 cm
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
Joseph of Arimathea looks on contemplatively as a tearful Nicodemus supports Christ's lifeless body on a stone tomb, which is inscribed in Latin with the artist's name and the work's subject, "sepulcher of Christ." The painting may originally have been positioned above an altar in a private chapel, where its somber mood was meant to encourage devotion and prayer. Despite his bloody wounds, Christ is depicted with an idealized body, like that of a classical statue, and a serene expression, suggesting his eventual triumph over death.
The timeless beauty of the figures and the perfection that emanates from his compositions earned Perugino the epithet of the "Divine Painter", a name awarded to him by Giovanni Santi, the father of his student Raphael.