Rogier van der Weyden 1399/1400 – 1464

The Lamentation

oil on panel (32 × 47 cm) — c. 1441 Museum Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels

Rogier van der Weyden biography

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Mary holds her dead son in her arms. John the Evangelist supports the body. Mary Magdalen looks on, also mourning.

Magdalen is easily identified by her usual attribute, the jar with ointment. The scull in the foreground reminds us that we are at Golgotha - the Place of the Scull.

In the choice of subject and the emotional strength some see the influence of the Modern Devotion. That was a movement in the late medieval Church that tried to involve people in religion in a more personal manner. By creating sympathy the believers were encouraged to follow in Jesus's footsteps.

The oak panel is only 0.35 cm thick. A study of the growth rings places it around 1441. The work is not signed, but style and pictural quality point to Rogier van der Weyden. Some experts think the work was made in his workshop but not by Rogier himself. A recent restauration returned the bright blue colours.

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