The Lamentation, c. 1498-1499
woodcut on laid paper
39.2 x 28.3 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 2924)
In the Passion cycle, Christ’s Descent from the Cross is followed by a period of mourning called the Lamentation. Dürer places the scene before the opening of the Holy Sepulchre to the right. The composition has a pyramidal organization of figures around the horizontal body of Christ. St. John the Evangelist holds Christ’s upper body, while the Virgin takes her son’s hand. Mary Magdalene (wearing a headband) throws up her hands in sorrow. This study in grief is set in a northern European landscape dominated by craggy rocks and slender trees, with Jerusalem in the background as a river village of towers.