Christ in Pietà amid the Instruments of the Passion (Arma Christi)
Olio su tavola
Hall 07 — 3rd floor
Previously attributed to a youthful Benedetto Bonfigli or to Mariano d’Antonio, this painting has been linked, for its stylistic, technical and compositional affinities, to another version of the same subject now held in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. Both of these works, together with another group of paintings that have been attributed variously to date, have recently been considered to be part of the production of an artist known as the Master of the Campana Annunciation, who may be identifiable with Giovanni di Tommasino Crivelli.
At the head of a flourishing workshop in Perugia that specialised in wedding trousseaus made of gilded plaster with relief work, Crivelli demonstrated in these panels the same technical expertise in using plaster for the elements in relief and for the rich decoration with gold and silver leaf, made more precious by etched or stamped details.
The Arma Christi, the name often attributed to the depiction of the dead Christ in Pietà emerging from the sepulchre with the instruments of the Passion next to him, became a very widespread iconographic motif during the first decades of the fifteenth century and is linked to the practice of indulgences, one example being the long prayer included on the work held in Cologne, a popularisation of the one spoken by Saint Gregory the Great before a vision of Christ and his meditation on his death.
Several episodes can be recognised in this panel. Working downwards from the top left, these are the denial of Peter, hands at work torturing, an executioner spitting, the cross, the nails, the lance, the ladder with the head of the hanged Judas and the thirty pieces of silver, the dice and Christ’s robe, then the goblet of bile. On the right are the sun and the moon, the burning torch, Peter’s hand as it cuts the ear, a lantern, the cock, the pillar and the whips, the stalk of the hyssop plant with the sponge, the rod, the rope and the pincers of the Deposition and Pontius Pilate washing his hands.