About This Artwork

Gerard David
Netherlandish, c. 1460–1523

Lamentation over the Body of Christ, c. 1500

Oil on panel
55.1 x 62.8 cm (21 1/2 x 24 1/2 in.)
Inscribed: REGHE (on the Magdalene’s ointment jar)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1040

In this painting, the Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist, and Saint Mary Magdalene grieve over the body of Christ while displaying it to the viewer. Although Gerard David and earlier Netherlandish painters often treated the Lamentation as a private devotional subject, this panel was part of a large altarpiece devoted to Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin. It was made in Gerard David’s Bruges workshop for export to Spain. Lamentation over the Body of Christ formed the center of a row of narrative scenes supporting the superstructure of the altarpiece following Spanish convention. Parts of the altarpiece are now divided between museums in Washington, D.C.; Toledo, Ohio; and Edinburgh, Scotland. In the years around 1500, Gerard David was the leading painter working in Bruges, a Flemish city with a distinguished history as a center of trade and artistic production.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Sammlung des königl. Rates Marczell von Nemes, Budapest, 1912, no. 22.

New York, Kleinberger, Loan Exhibition of Flemish Primitives, 1929, no. 31.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1933, no. 40.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1934, no. 119.

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces of Religious Art, 1954, p. 24.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, )e Saint Anne Altarpiece by Gerard David, 1992, brochure by John Hand, pp. 1, 6–7, 12–13, fig. 4.

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Gerard David y el paisaje flamenco, 2004, no. 6.

The Art Institute of Chicago, New Light on Old Masters: Research on Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute, 26 June—14 September 2008, no cat.

Publication History

P. Piferrer, Recuerdos y bellezas de España: Mallorca, vol. 5, Barcelona, 1842, p. 332, no. 124.

Joaquin María Bover, Noticia histórico-artística de los museos del eminentísimo señor cardenal Despuig existentes en Mallorca, Palma, 1845, p. 192, no. 197.

Karl Justi, “Altflandrische Bilder in Spanien und Portugal,” Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 21 (1886), pp. 137–38.

La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, no. 12 (1903), p. 100.

Camille Benoit, “La Peinture néerlandaise primitive au Louvre et autour du Louvre,”

La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, no. 13 (1903), pp. 105–06.

Eberhard, Freiherr von Bodenhausen, Gerard David und seine Schule, Munich, 1905, p. 168, under no. 31.

Eberhard, Freiherr von Bodenhausen and Wilhelm R. Valentiner, “Zum Werk Gerard Davids,” Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 22 (1911), p. 184 (ill.).

G. Howe, “Die Galerie Marczell v. Nemes in der Stadtischen Kunsthalle zu Düsseldorf,” Die Kunst 25 (1912), p. 553.

Georg Biermann, “Die Sammlung Marczell von Nemes,” Der Cicerone 5 (1913), p. 370.

La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, no. 24 (1913), p. 370.

Émile Dacier, “La Collection Marczell de Nemes,” La Revue de l’art ancien et moderne 33 (1913), p. 458.

J. Mesnil, “Collection Marczell de Nemès: Galerie Manzi-Joyant,” L’Art flamand et hollandais 20 (1913), p. 26.

Gabriel Mourey, “La Collection Marczell de Nemes,” Les Arts, no. 12 (June 1913), p. 18.

“Nemes Collection Sale,” Art News 11, 28 (1913), p. 7.

F[riedrich] W[inkler], in Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, vol. 8, Leipzig, 1913, p. 454.

The Art Institute of Chicago, General Catalogue of Paintings, Sculpture, and Other Objects in the Museum, 1914, p. 209, no. 2101.

“Loan Collections,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 7 (1914), pp. 37–38 (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, Paintings, and Drawings, vol. 2, August 1920, p. 61.

Martin Conway, The Van Eycks and Their Followers, London, 1921, p. 286.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, and Paintings, May 1922, p. 70.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection, 1925, p. 159, no. 2017.

Rose Mary Fischkin, “Martin A. Ryerson Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, XIII to XVII Century, Loaned to The Art Institute of Chicago,” unpub. MS, 1926, Ryerson Library, The Art Institute of Chicago, pp. 84–85.

Max J. Friedländer, Die altniederländische Malerei, vol. 6, Berlin, 1928, p. 150, no.
195; rev. English ed., Early Netherlandish Painting, vol. 6, pt. 2, Brussels and Leiden, 1971, pp. 105, 132, no. 195, pl. 202.


The Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection, 1932, p. 180, no. 430.13.

Ludwig Baldass, “Gerard David als Landschaftsmaler,” Jahrbuch der kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien, n.s., 10 (1936), pp. 89–90.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection, 1961, pp. 115, 146 (ill.).

Friedrich Winkler, Das Werk des Hugo van der Goes, Berlin, 1964, p. 107.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84 (1966), p. 198.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago, London, 1970, pp. 35–36, 279 (ill.).

Elisa Bermejo, “Un nuevo ‘Descendimento’ de Gerard David,” in Actas del XXIII Congreso internacional de historia del arte: España entre el Mediterraneo y el Atlantico, Granada, 1973, vol. 1, Granada, 1976, p. 309.

Marigene H. Butler, “A Technical Investigation of the Materials and Technique Used in Two Flemish Paintings,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 8 (1976), pp. 59–65, 69–71, figs. 4–5.

James David Farmer, “Gerard David’s Lamentation and an Anonymous Saint Jerome,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 8 (1976), pp. 39–58, figs. 1, 8, 9.

Toledo Museum of Art, European Paintings, Toledo, 1976, p. 48.

Martin Wyld, Ashok Roy, and Alistair Smith, “Gerard David’s ‘The Virgin and Child with Saints and a Donor,’” National Gallery Technical Bulletin 3 (1979), p. 62.

John D. Morse, Old Master Paintings in North America, New York, 1979, pp. 79, 91 (ill.).

Edwin James Mundy III, “Gerard David Studies,” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1980, p. 38.

John Hand, in John Hand and Martha Wolff, Early Netherlandish Painting, Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1986, pp. 69–73.

Judith Anne Testa, The Beatty Rosarium: A Manuscript with Miniatures by Simon Bening, Doornspijk, 1986, pp. 169–70, fig. 32.

Dirk de Vos, “David, Gerard, schilder,” in Koninklijke Academiën van België, Nationaal biografisch woordenboek, vol. 12, Brussels, 1987, col. 216.

Edwin Buijsen, “Drowned or Murdered? A New Interpretation of a Miracle of St. Anthony of Padua by Gerard David,” Hoogsteder-Naumann Mercury 7 (1988), p. 10 n. 4.

Hans J. van Miegroet, Gerard David, Antwerp, 1989, pp. 48, 110, 278–79, no. 5, fig. 32, pl. 10.

Maryan W. Ainsworth, review of Van Miegroet 1989, in Art Bulletin 72 (1990), p. 653.

Guy Bauman and Walter A. Liedtke, Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America, Antwerp, 1992 , p. 325, no. 169 (ill.).

Catherine A. Metzger, “Restoration and Reconstruction of Gerard David’s St. Anne Altar,” in AIC Paintings Specialty Group Postprints, ed. M. C. Steele, Buffalo, N.Y., 1992, pp. 59, 62.

Maryan W. Ainsworth, “Gerard David,” in Les Primitifs flamands et leur temps, ed. Brigitte de Patoul and Roger van Schoute, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994, p. 491.

Catherine A. Metzger and Barbara H. Berrie, “Gerard David’s ‘Saint Anne Altarpiece’: Evidence for Workshop Participation,” in Historical Painting Techniques, Materials and Studio Practice, ed. Arie Wallert, Erma Hermens, and Marja Peek, Marina del Rey, Calif., 1995, p. 127.

Dirk de Vos, “David, Gerard,” in Dictionary of Art, vol. 8, 1996, p. 553.

Maryan W. Ainsworth, Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition, New York, 1998, pp. 29, 100–01, 140–41, 153, 169, 319, 323, figs. 36, 141.

Lorne Campbell, The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools, National Gallery Catalogues, London, 1998, pp. 137, 156 n. 20.

Martha Wolff, in Charles Sterling et al., )e Robert Lehman Collection: Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings; France, Central Europe, The Netherlands, Spain, and Great Britain, New York, 1998, p. 111.

Martha Wolff in Martha Wolff et al., Northern European and Spanish Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2008, pp. 198-205, ill.

Ownership History

Probably Cardinal Antonio Despuig y Dameto, archbishop of Valencia (d. 1813). Don Ramon Despuig, Count of Montenegro, Palma de Mallorca, by 1842 [Piferrer 1842, pp. 278, 332.]; by descent to the counts of Montenegro, Palma de Mallorca, until at least 1886 [Justi 1886]. Countess René de Béarn, Paris, by 1903; sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Mar. 5, 1903, no. 38, for 12,800 fr. [Benoit 1903, p. 105]. Walter Gay, Paris [according to Friedländer, vol. 6, 1928]. V. G. Fischer Art Co., New York and Washington, D.C., 1909–11 [Bodenhausen and Valentiner 1911, p. 184. Friedländer’s photograph of the Lamentation in the R.K.D., The Hague, is annotated Früher Washington (previously Washington) on the reverse]. Marczell de Nemes, Budapest, by 1912; sold, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, June 17–18, 1913, no. 17, to Kleinberger, Paris, as agent for Ryerson, for 84,000 fr. [Kleinberger invoice, June 18, 1913, in Art Institute Archives; Martin A. Ryerson (d. 1932), Chicago; on loan to the Art Institute from 1913; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.




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