Collection Online
The Descent from the Cross

The Descent from the Cross
(c. 1511-1520)

oil on wood panel
106.0 × 72.0 cm irreg.
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1931
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
16th & 17th Century Gallery - Painting and Sculpture
Mezzanine linked to Level 1, NGV International
From the thirteenth century onwards the anguished last days of Christ’s life became the dramatic centre of devotional literature, art, and music. These episodes, known collectively as the Passion, culminated in the Crucifixion and demanded new levels of expression on the part of artists. This panel shows how a Passion subject evolved in the hands of the skilled painters of the Southern Netherlands. The holy persons are portrayed in contemporary dress, placing the biblical drama in the present. Originally flanked with wings, the work would have been commissioned as a private altarpiece for a wealthy patron, shown here dressed in fine brocades lowering Christ to the ground.


The former framing of The Descent from the Cross, c.1511-20, acquired 1931, was from the nineteenth century and reflected the extension of the original ogee shaped panel into a rectangular format in a restoration of the work most likely dating to the early nineteenth century.
When the painting was cleaned and restored in 1997, the painting was returned to the ogee shape by removing the extensions to the panel along with the cradle on the reverse. This treatment brought forward the need to reframe the panel.
A copy of the panel, in the complete form of a triptych dated 1520, is in the Potteries Museum in Brugges, Belgium.
A reproduction of this frame was made in 1998 using European oak and replicating the joinery and gilding.
The panel, which had been thinned in a previous restoration, was fitted to a panel tray and re-housed in the frame.

Reproduction - crafted by the NGV

Oak, gold leaf and distemper paint