Descent Benedetto Antelami

Descent Benedetto Antelami
Descent Benedetto Antelami

The descent from the Cross, a scene also known as The Deposition, is one of the oldest scenes of the Passion of Jesus Christ, in it the most human essence of Jesus Christ is revealed with his own death and suffering; Due to this, the scene fits perfectly into the didactic intention that characterizes medieval art as an attempt to train the Christian faithful and evoke their piety through art.

In this context, the first plastic manifestation of a Deposition that has come down to us is found in an illuminated codex from the end of the 10th century, but in the field of sculpture this theme appears even later, in Italy it appears in 1178 the first representation of a Descent in the pulpit of the Cathedral of Parma made by the sculptor and architect Benedetto Antelami.

1027 6 Benedetto Antelami-Descent-Parma

Benedetto Antelami, also known as Antelami of Parma is one of the few names of master sculptors that has come down to us. Actually, there is not much data we have about of this artist, it seems that he developed his art at the end of the 12th century with some recognition and in his work the influence of classicist plastic art can be appreciated -in his works he shows himself to be knowledgeable about Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture- and of the Byzantine tradition.

The work that concerns us here is only part of amajor and now lost design that the artist made to decorate the pulpit of the Cathedral of Parma and that today is found in the transept of the same cathedral. It is a high-relief made of marble that appears signed and dated by the artist himself, something quite unusual for the time. The work represents one of the best examples of Romanesque sculpture where the artist has overflowed with creativity and attention to detail. Benedetto collects in a horizontal panelthree different temporary scenesframed by a border of plant motifs and a cantilevered cornice on which he has placed floral bouquets

In the center of the composition is the central moment of the Descent, Jesus Christ, already deceased, being taken down from the cross by Nicodemus. On the other side, the Virgin Mary picks up, with the help of an angel and flanked by Saint John, the hand of her deceased son. Completing the central scene appears a representation of the triumphant Church and the Synagogue whose head is bowed by an angel that crosses the sky.

To the left of the Crucifixion the artist represents an earlier scene, the sharing of the vestments among the Roman soldiers with the tunic of Jesus Christ in the foreground, above them in a tondo a humanized representation of the moon alluding to the darkness that followed the death of Jesus. To the right appears a later scene, the Visit of the three Marys to the empty tomb when Jesus Christ has already risen and above them the representation of the Sun in a humanized clypeus that alludes to light andhope for Christians after the resurrection.

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