The oil painting on panel Entombment of Christ (The Deposition in the Tomb) by Van der Weyden is inspired by a similar painting of Fra Angelico (Alte Pinakothek, Munich) which formed part of the great altarpiece for the church of San Marco in Florence. Van der Weyden seems to share the spirituality of Angelico's work, which was intended to encourage prayer and meditation through display of Christ's body to the faithful in the same manner as the host during the consecration. But he introduces a greater wealth of detail and variety of expressions that attenuate the abstraction of the Tuscan artist's composition.
It should also be noted that the subject was foreign to the Flemish tradition, which tended to prefer the theme of the Deposition from the Cross to that of the Lamentation over the Dead Christ so common in Italian art. It is believed to date from at least ten years later; between 1463 and 1464. The link with Italy appears to lie instead in its commission by the Medici family, de facto rulers of Florence at the time.
In the view of some scholars, in fact. Nicodemus's face has the features of the most influential member of the family, Cosimo the Elder, who was also responsible for the reconstruction of the church and monastery of San Marco. The connection with the Medici family and Florence resurfaces in the Madonna and Child with Four Saintsin Frankfurt (Stadelsches Institut), where we see Cosmas and Damian, patrons of the Medici, and the lily that symbolizes Florence, in the middle of the predella.
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