(b. 1528, Verona, d. 1588, Venezia)

Lamentation over the Dead Christ

c. 1547
Oil on canvas, 76 x 117 cm
Museo Civico di Castelvecchio, Verona

The unusual feature of the iconography is that it is not Joseph of Arimathaea that holds the body of Christ as would be customary, but Nicodemus, identifiable because he is younger, has a dark beard and wears turban-style headgear. His hands are covered to avoid direct physical contact. Joseph of Arimathaea on the other hand appears in the background as an old man with a white beard and hair in a well-chosen three-quarters profile. His features are undoubtedly presented as a portrait so that one could imagine him as a prominent member of the monastic community, perhaps even the patron who commissioned the devotional picture. In view of the sketch-like, summary execution of some parts of this very well-preserved picture, it has been assumed that it was a preparatory oil sketch for a larger-format painting that was never carried out. An argument against this is the masterly, delicate palette of reds, yellows, greens and blues providing delightful contrasts with violet and pink.

The composition is based on an etching by Parmigianino. Characteristic of Veronese's free treatment of motifs and stylistic mannerisms is the way he adapts the gesture of Parmigianino's Joseph of Arimathaea and the emotional intensity of individual figures.