Oil on canvas.
Expert analysis: Dr. Alessandro Delpriori, University of Florence.
Orazio Borgianni was a prominent Italian painter, but he is also known for his etchings. He was born in Rome but spent a large part of his life in Spain. His painting style is a synthesis of the Carracci family and the tenebrism of Caravaggio, which is most evident in the paintings of San Carlo Borromeo in the Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1612) and then in the painting of the same saint from 1616, which is now in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
This depiction of the Lamentation of Christ was executed between 1600 and 1605. It reflects the painter’s passion and intensity that enhances a scene full of spiritual power and urgency. The main part of the image is dominated by the dead body of Christ, which reclines diagonally from the upper right to the lower left corner. He is most likely supported by the Apostle John, which can be assumed due to the typical red cloak and young age. On the other side, we see the crying and emotionally exhausted Mary Magdalene, who, according to the Bible, accompanied Christ to Golgotha, identifiable by her garments. All three figures emerge from the dark background and thanks to precision work with light and shadows, attention is directed to the actual body of Christ and the faces of those present. The scene is dramatic, the colours mystical, the shadow play creates an atmosphere of emotion, and we can sympathise with and become part of Christ’s suffering and the sorrow of his followers.