Duccio di Buoninsegna ca. 1255 – 1319

Christ in limbo

tempera on panel (51 × 54 cm) — 1308-11 Museum Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana del Duomo, Siena

Duccio di Buoninsegna biography

This work is linked to 1 Peter 3:19

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Also known as The Descent to Hell or The Harrowing of Hell. From his grave Christ descended into hell, where he found many prophets and forefathers in limbo, i.e. in a separate space where they were waiting for redemption. They could not move on to heaven until their sins had been washed away. Christ frees them after having crushed Satan under his feet. The man Christ helps to rise is Adam, and the man with the golden crown is king David.

The story does not appear in the Gospels. It is only known from apocryphal sources, such as the Gospel of Nicodemus. But there are some verses in the New Testament that may refer to the episode.

In most depictions of the story Christ holds a standard with cross. Also there often are crushed doors lying on the floor.

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