The Entombment of Christ

Date: ca. 1390–1405

Geography: Made in Paris, France

Culture: French

Medium: Opaque and translucent enamel on gold

Dimensions: Overall: 3 7/16 x 3 1/16 x 3/16 in. (8.7 x 7.7 x 0.5 cm)

Classification: Enamels-Ronde Bosse

Credit Line: The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.60.398


The entombment of Christ after the Crucifixion is variously described in the Four Gospels. Each of the accounts notes the presence of a wealthy man at the scene, Joseph of Arimathea; with him, according to Matthew and Mark, were Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James. However, only the Gospel of Saint John refers to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, as being in attendance. None of the Gospels describes the crowd of mourners gathered at the bier, as seen here, but the depiction of such a group is typical in French art of the Gothic period.

About 1400, the technique of enameling en ronde-bosse, which was used for this plaque, became a hallmark of goldsmiths' work for the French royal court. Jewel-like in its effect, it combines luminous color-as well as, here, the mottled gray of the sarcophagus and the floral patterning on the Virgin's gown-with finely detailed goldwork, as seen in the precisely detailed physiognomies and the scroll pattern stippled on the gold ground.