Descent from the Cross (Rogier van der Weyden)

Descent from the Cross (Rogier van der Weyden)

Artist Rogier van der Weyden

Date ca. 1435

Movement Northern Renaissance

Medium Oil on panel

Dimensions 7’3” x 8’7”

Housed at Museo del Prado, Madrid


This work was commissioned for the altarpiece of the church of Louvain, near Brussels. Rogier shows nothing of a landscape, but keeps the figures grouped tightly together in a shallow box of space, so as to emphasize their grief- ridden expressions and forms. The Virgin’s body mirrors that of her son—implying that part of herself has died with Christ. Christ’s body stands out in the central position of the altarpiece, which viewers would have certainly taken note of during the Eucharist, or the partaking of the Body of Christ.