(b. 1494, Firenze, d. 1540, Paris)


Oil on wood transferred to canvas, 125 x 159 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Rosso addressed the theme of the dead Christ again towards the end of his artistic career when, after completing the decoration of the Gallery at Fontainebleau for François I, painted the Pietà. The painting once hung above the door of the chapel of the High Constable Anne de Montmorency in the castle of Ecouen. The painting, of all the works executed by Rosso during his stay in France (1530-40), is the only surviving example that is certainly original.

The painting is a "close-up" of the body of Christ, which extends across the whole width of the composition, literally filling the pictorial space. Christ's body, having taken down from the cross, of which there is no trace in the composition, and from the maternal lap, is elegantly placed on a cushion lying on the ground. Behind the body of Jesus the Virgin opens her arms and collapses into the arms of one of the pious women. Light shines in the foreground of the composition, highlighting, compared with the dark background, the various shades of red in the clothing, which contrast with the white of the scarf surrounding the upper part of Mary's dress, and the delicate lace of Mary Magdalene's dress, in which the golden yellow of the sleeve stands out.