Deposition of Jesus Christ in the sepulchre by Andrea De’ Ferrari

The Deposition by De’ Ferrari, an accurate representation of the Gospels

  • oil on canvas
  • first half of the 17th century
  • Giovanni Andrea De’ Ferrari (Genoa, 1598 – 25 December 1669)


The painting represents the deposition of the body of Christ into the sepulcher after it was taken down from the cross. The dead Christ is laid on a sheet provided by Joseph of Arimathea, who is portrayed on the right, holding pliers to remove nails from the cross.

Jesus is supported by Nicodemus on the left. Next to him there is a vase of ointment, myrrh and aloe, which people used to anoint dead bodies; Mary of Magdala is represented bowing down on his feet, which she wets with her tears; in the background it is possible to see the grieving Virgin Mary, sitting on a high stool, and another woman, maybe Mary of Cleophas.

We do not know for sure the author of this painting, because the documents do not mention him. However, Dr. Lucia Fornari Schianchi attributes it to a pupil of Gioacchino Assereto (Genoa, 1600 – 28 June 1649), while in 1984 experts Giovanni Godi and Giuseppe Cirillo attributed it to Genoese artist Giovanni Andrea De’ Ferrari.

We know that a Genoese family of antique dealers, the Parodi family, donated the painting to the parish church of Saint John the Baptist of Siccomonte (near Parma). Only later was it placed in the Diocesan Museum of Fidenza for better conservation and appreciation.


Joseph of Arimathea: Mentioned in the New Testament, he was a rich and respectable man, a landowner and a member of the Sanhedrin (supreme council of the Jews). He used his powerful social position to obtain from Pilato the body of Jesus, which would otherwise have been interred in a mass grave, according to Roman customs. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean sheet and laid it in his new sepulchre, previously hewn in the stone.


Mary of Magdala: Also known as Mary Magdalene; according to the New Testament she was an important follower of Jesus. She is venerated as Saint by the Catholic Church, which celebrates her feast on July 22. Her figure is mentioned both in the New Testament and in some apocryphal gospels. Mary was one of the few followers of Jesus who were present at his crucifixion.


Mary of Cleophas: Disciple of Jesus who was present during his passion. She is venerated as a Saint by the Catholic Church, together with Saint Salome. Their feast is on April 24.


Lucia Fornari Schianchi: She was the Supervisor of the Historic Artistic Heritage of Parma and Piacenza, as well as of Siena and Grosseto, although for a shorter number of years.


Gioacchino Assereto: Italian painter of the 17th century, born in Genoa. His artistic formation was conducted first through the lessons of Mannerist painter Luciano Borzone (1590 – 1645) and later with Andrea Ansaldo (1584 – 1638).