This is a rare painting on slate and the first work in this medium to enter the Fitzwilliam's collection.

Bassetti was born in Verona and painting on slate was a speciality of Verona at this time. The gleaming dark background was well suited to dramatically lit nocturnal scenes. In this example the subtle lighting of the figures surrounded by darkness concentrates the viewer's eye on the image. The iconography is unusual. The awkward position of Christ's body falling into the Virgin's lap has a dynamic quality that heightens the tension in a subject which is usually static. The winged angel holding Christ's foot helps the balance of the composition, but he also appears to cleanse the blood from Christ's wound with the drapery he holds in his right hand. The Fitzwilliam has an active policy of extending its important collection of Italian paintings.

Provenance

Private Austrian collection; Dorotheum, 1999; Thomas Le Clerc; Christie’s, New York 2003; Christie's, New York 2003; Private collection; Christie's London, 2006 bought in; Danny Katz on behalf of the Daniel Katz Family Trust. The work has been


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