Deposition of Jesus Christ in the sepulchre by Vincenzo Campi

Unusual interpretation of the Gospels: the Deposition by Vincenzo Campi

  • oil on canvas
  • attributed to Vincenzo Campi
  • 16th century

 

The Deposition by Vincenzo Campi represents the burial of the body of Christ, but not as it is described by the Evangelists, that is, with the participation of seven characters: Joseph of Arimathea, John, Nicodemus, the Virgin, Mary Cleophas, Mary Magdalene, and Mary Salomè.

The artist chose to represent Christ’s body supported by two angels, instead of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, as described in the Gospels.

In the background behind the angelic figures are two “classic” characters: Joseph of Arimathea and the grieving Virgin.

The artwork was not signed. It was attributed to Vincenzo Campi and was considered a reproduction with few differences from his original Deposition, preserved in the church of Bordolano (Cremona).

This painting comes from the Church of Saint Cristoforo of Vidalenzo, near Parma. Giampaolo Gregori, however, in an article published on “Parma per l’Arte” (2007), surmises that the painting currently located in Fidenza could be the one that is mentioned in the ancient sources as previously on display in the Church of Saint Mattia in Cremona, and supposedly lost after the religious building was secularized in 1808 and then sold to private buyers.

In addition to the observations made by Godi, a further evidence of the authenticity of the painting is the particular kind of canvas used,, very similar to the one used by Vincenzo Campi for his sanmartino (also known as Il trasloco, or The move) (1585-90).

This kind of canvas is called “alla parosina”: a tightly weaved cotton fabric with a background pattern called “occhio di pernice”.

IN-DEPTH BOX

Joseph of Arimathea: Mentioned in the New Testament, he was a rich and respectable man, a landowner and a member of the Sanhedrin. 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 a new sepulchre, previously hewn in the stone.

 

Nicodemus: Doctor of the law and a member of the Sanhedrin, he helped Joseph of Arimathea with Christ’s burial.

 

Vincenzo Campi (1536-1591): An Italian painter who lived in Cremona; he painted altarpieces, but also genre scenes. His artistic career developed mainly in Cremona, but he painted in Milan, Pavia and Busseto too.