The Descent from the Cross
The Descent from the Cross, ca. 1570
Pen and ink, brush and wash
41.9 x 28.7 cm (16 1/2 x 11 5/16 inches)
Gift of Miss Ellen D. Sharpe 50.298
To our eyes, this compositional study appears strikingly modern with its cubistic rendering of forms and summary abstraction of faces, yet the prolific Genovese artist, Luca Cambiaso, produced this drawing in the late sixteenth century. Cambiaso’s powerful and rapid graphic shorthand reflects his use of models made of clay or wax and the existence of a thriving workshop in which apprentices used his drawings to transfer general compositional outlines to canvas or board. Cambiaso himself painted the detailed facial expressions, textures, and effects of light. Although his graphic style may be called revolutionary, the composition itself sits firmly within Renaissance conventions: it exhibits a pyramidal composition and a traditional rendering of the swooning Virgin Mary and the kneeling Mary Magdalene at Christ’s descent from the Cross.
… – possibly 1680 or 1694, Collection of Peter Lely, London, [1618-1680]. Lugt 2092.
… Collection of Sir Robert Witt, London, [1872-1952]. Lugt 2228b.
- 1950, Purchased by Francis Matthiesen, Matthiesen Gallery, London possibly from Sir Robert Witt.
1950, Purchased by Miss Ellen Sharpe, RI from Matthiesen Gallery on 07/13/1950 . Transaction invoice.
1950, Gift to the RISD Museum from Miss Ellen Sharpe on 11/07/1950.