The Lamentation

Artist: Scipione Pulzone (Il Gaetano) (Italian, Gaeta, active by 1569–died 1598 Rome)

Date: 1593

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 114 x 68 in. (289.6 x 172.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Anonymous Gift, in memory of Terence Cardinal Cooke, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.74


This altarpiece was painted for the chapel of the Passion of Christ in the church of the Gesù, in Rome, the headquarters of the Jesuit order. Its style was intended to complement the austere interior space of the church. Pulzone’s canvas is conceived not as a narrative but as a meditation on the Entombment of Christ, in line with Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Details such as the tears of the Virgin, the crown of thorns held by Saint John, and the pallor of Christ’s body are presented to the viewer for contemplation. Pulzone’s brand of realism made him an important exponent of Counter Reformation art.