Deposition of Christ
Deposition of Christ
Deposition of Christ
Deposition of Christ

Heinrich Workshop of Constance (?)
c. 1330-1340


Dom Museum Wien


Medieval art

On view

Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Deposition of Christ

The sculpture shows the moment of Christ being taken down from the cross in a most concentrated manner. Its original context is not clear.

This colored sculptural group from the first half of the fourteenth century shows the dead body of Christ as it is being taken down from the cross: the right arm is already unfastened from the cross-bar—Mary holds it in her hands with her head lowered as if about to kiss the wound. Joseph of Arimathea leans into the body with the shroud, supporting it as it is coming down, directly looking into the face of the deceased. The scene appears momentary and dynamic—an impression that is heightened by the diagonal of Christ’s spread-out arms.
There are only few comparable pieces which depict the act of taking down, supporting, and shrouding the dead body in such a concentrated manner.
The group has only survived as a fragment. It can be assumed that it originally comprised five figures: a pincer head around the nail through the dead man’s left foot indicates that there must have been another helper—Nicodemus, presumably—kneeling on the right and about to pull out the nail. Standing behind him in grief was probably John the Apostle, whose figure was the compositional counterpart to Mary. All those figures were standard in a Gothic deposition scene. Passions scenes like this enjoyed particular popularity in the fourteenth century as they were supposed to inspire compassion (compassio) in the faithful.

Stylistically, the work resembles two objects which also show scenes from the Passion of Christ and are kept at the Wien Museum today so that it makes sense to assume a formal nexus. They probably are three parts of a Passion cycle from St. Stephen’s. There is no telling today where in the cathedral it was on display—there are too many gaps in the records. According to research, the work was either part of the no longer extant “Corpus Christi Altar” or a sculptural element that graced the rood screen.