Botticelli: “Lamentation over the Dead Christ”

Gallerie d’Italia, Naples

Following Antonello da Messina’s Portrait of a Man from Turin, Pablo Picasso’s Harlequin with a mirror from Madrid, Caravaggio’s Musicians from New York and Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a woman from Parma, the Gallerie d’Italia in Naples will be hosting Sandro Botticelli’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ thanks to an exceptional loan from the Poldi Pezzoli Museum.

The arrival of the masterpiece from Milan marks the ninth edition of L’Ospite illustre event, which displays a major artwork on temporary loan from prestigious Italian and foreign museums at Intesa Sanpaolo’s venues for art, culture and beauty – the Gallerie d’Italia and the 36th floor of the Turin skyscraper.

A movingly expressive painting

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ portrays the extraordinarily moving moment when Jesus’ body, having been taken down from the cross on Calvary, is about to be laid in the tomb: in the foreground, his lifeless body is cradled by his mother, who, overcome with grief, has fainted and is supported by Saint John the Evangelist, as Mary Magdalene lovingly embraces his wounded feet. Joseph appears at the top of the pyramid composition, revealing to the sky the Instruments of the Passion: the crown of thorns and three nails taken from the cross and Jesus’ body.

Dating back to the early sixteenth century, the painting is an example of Botticelli’s later work; it was rediscovered by Giorgio Vasari on an altar in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence in 1568. It was purchased in 1879 by Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli, the aristocratic collector who founded the Milan house-museum.

Juxtaposed with Botticelli’s Lamentation is another work depicting the drama of Christ’s death and burial, kept in the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naples: the painting in question is Christ carried to the Tomb (1508-1510 circa) by Pedro Fernández. Despite working in a different genre of figurative art, Fernández still achieves, through the sense of agitation in the shapes and the sorrow borne by the figures, an intensity which resembles that achieved by the Florentine master.

A unique comparison between two important Renaissance artworks is thus forged at the Gallerie d’Italia, proving again that the exhibition is always an opportunity to explore and reflect on Italian art.

An ever stronger relationship

The Poldi Pezzoli Museum and the Gallerie d’Italia have been collaborating for several years now: the Milan-based museum-house has taken part in every edition of Intesa Sanpaolo’s  Restituzioni project since 2000.

Over the past decade the two museums have worked side-by-side to curate two stunning exhibitions, drawing on their physical proximity and common mission:

  • In 2013-2014 they hosted Wunderkammer. Arte, Natura, Meraviglia ieri e oggi, dedicated to the “cabinets of curiosities” popular between 1500 and 1600 north and south of the Alps and closely connected to the refined, precious collections of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli.
  • 2018-2019 saw Romanticismo, the first ever exhibition charting Italy’s contribution to the Romantic movement, gathering paintings and sculptures by artists including Francesco Hayez, Giuseppe Molteni, Salvatore Fergola, Lorenzo Bartolini, Pietro Tenerani and Vincenzo Vela under “two roofs”.

This year’s prestigious guest at Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano is the latest (but by no means the last) episode in a partnership designed to study, preserve, protect and optimise art and beauty.


from 22.06.2019 to 29.09.2019
Opening hours
from 10:00 am to Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm
Last admission: 30 minutes before closing.
Closed on Mondays.

Combined ticket valid for the exhibitions and permanent collections:
– full-price: €5.00
– reduced: €3.00
– free entry for pass holders, schools, under 18s, customers and employees of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group