In this painting Van Dyck represents one of the most moving sequences in The Passion of Christ. He achieves a dramatic effect by shedding light on the face of the Virgin Mary and leaving that of Jesus in semi-darkness, although the latter’s nude body, skilfully rendered and barely covered by the white shroud, seems to be the source of light. This canvas was painted during the last stage of the artist’s life in London, working for Charles I, and is perfectly in keeping with the idealised aesthetic guidelines laid down by the king, which included the elegance of figures, a compositional balance and a gentle colour range. In this case the painter, who produced several versions of this theme, resorts to a landscape composition in which the figures form two groups connected by the child angel who is crying inconsolably: on the one hand, Magdalene, Jesus Christ and Mary, and on the other, two adult angels. The end figures lean towards the centre, thereby closing the composition.
Van Dyck trained with Hendrik van Balen in Antwerp and soon his talent became outstanding. Already an accomplished painter when he began to work with Rubens, he would remain indebted to the latter’s style until his sojourn in Italy, to where he travelled in 1621 to complete his training. His reputation, especially as a portraitist of the aristocracy, soon reached the ears of Charles I, who called him to London. Van Dyck settled in the English capital in 1632 and remained there for the rest of his life. [A.S.L.]
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Matías Díaz Padrón. "La Piedad (Lamentación sobre Cristo Muerto) de Van Dyck en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao"en Urtekaria 1989 : asterlanak, albistak = anuario 1989 : estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 1990, pp. 41-53.
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Ana Sánchez-Lassa. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 63, n.º 43, ad vocem.