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Descent from the Cross

Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

Descent from the Cross

Culture Group: French
Culture: French
Date: c. 1250
Medium: Stained glass and lead
Diameter: 15 1/2 inches (39.4 cm)
Classification: Decorative Art
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Ella Brummer in memory of her husband, Ernest Brummer.
Label Text:This panel is in need of restoration, but in its current condition it demonstrates the natural processes of aging and decay of these materials. Over time, the lead pieces connecting the pieces of glass, or “cames,” have deteriorated due to exposure to the elements and the stress of loadbearing. Pollution and moisture cause glass to become more opaque as it ages, and painted details can erode, as have many on this panel. Several earlier restorations replaced or reversed a few pieces of glass, resulting in a distorted appearance.

The precise provenance of this fragment is unknown, although it has been dated to the mid-thirteenth century and is stylistically similar to works produced at that time in western France. It depicts the events described in the New Testament (John 19:38-42), when, after the crucifixion, Christ’s followers removed his body from the cross and carried it to his tomb. Christ is the central figure, with his halo visible against the green arm of the cross and his legs intertwined and nailed together. The Virgin Mary, wearing a blue mantle, gazes sorrowfully at her son. To the right of the Virgin, a man climbs a ladder to release Christ’s body. Two other men stand to Christ’s left; the head of one of them is now missing. These figures cannot be definitively identified, but they may represent Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and John the Evangelist, who were present at the deposition and burial.

Provenance: Purchased July 26, 1938 through Maquet by Ernest [1890-1964] or Joseph [1883-1947] Brummer; by inheritance to Ernest Brummer's wife, Ella Brummer; gift/purchase 1978 by Duke University Museum of Art, now Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Object number: 1978.20.10