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Relief - The Entombment of Christ

The Entombment of Christ

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    first half sixteenth century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Giambologna (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt bronze panel in carved chestnut frame, sculptured in high relief

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a gilt bronze relief after Jean Boulogne (Giovanni Bologna), called Giambologna (1529-1608), made in the first half of the 16th century in Florence. It represents the Entombment of Christ. The relief is a replica of one of the four bronze reliefs at the back of the altar commissioned by Cardinal Ferdinando de'Medici from Giovanni Bologna in 1588 for the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The relief in Jerusalem appears to be the same size as the present relief. The handling of the figures appears as a whole to be tighter and less expressive than in the original, and the detail of the foreground and the interior of the cave is handled less naturalistically.

Born in Flanders Giovanni Bologna (1524-1608), or short Giambologna went to Rome to study antique sculpture from about 1550 to 1553. He then travelled through Florence where he was persuaded to stay. He became sculptor to the Medici family and thus became one of the most influential sculptors of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. For half a century Giambologna dominated Florentine sculpture, carving an ever more impressive series of statue groups in marble: Samson Slaying a Philistine (1560–62), Florence Triumphant over Pisa (1563–75), the Rape of a Sabine (1582), Hercules Slaying a Centaur (1595–1600). In addition, Giambologna produced several extraordinary bronze statues. By ca. 1570 Giambologna had become the most influential sculptor in Europe. Apart from the fame that his monumental statues in Florence inevitably brought, his style was disseminated in the form of small bronze reproductions of his masterworks, or statuettes, which he composed independently as elegant ornaments for the interior. These were used by the Medici as diplomatic gifts for friendly heads of state, and were also eagerly purchased by European collectors as examples of sophisticated Florentine design. They were especially favoured in Germany and the Low Countries and were prominently illustrated in paintings of fashionable gallery interiors there. For compositional subtlety, sensuous tactile values and sheer technical virtuosity, Giambologna’s work is virtually unequalled in any period or country.

Physical description

Relief in gilt bronze. The tomb is seen in the left centre in a cave under a hill. The body of Christ is supported by three male figures. In the right foreground are two standing men in left profile, and in the left foreground are three holy women in profile to the right. Behind them appear the heads of two other figures. In the left upper corner is a clump of four tree trunks, in the centre at the top is a fifth tree, and the trunk of another appears to the right. In the distance on the right are the city of Jerusalem and the hill of Calvary with two crosses.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


first half sixteenth century (made)


Giambologna (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Gilt bronze panel in carved chestnut frame, sculptured in high relief


Height: 26.8 cm, Width: 27.3 cm

Object history note

Bought in 1866.

Descriptive line

Panel, bronze gilt in carved chestnut frame, sculptured in high relief, with the Entombment of our Saviour, after Giambologna, Florence, first half of the sixteenth century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume II: Text, Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: HMSO, 1964, p. 476
Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1866. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 23
Pope-Hennessy, John. Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Reliefs, Plaquettes, Statuettes, Utensils and Mortar. London: Phaidon, 1965, p. 24, no. 70
Ronen, Avraham. Portigiani's Bronze "Ornamemto" in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz. 1970, XIV, pp. 415-442
Avery, Charles, Anthony Radcliffe, Joanna Drew, Giambologna 1529-1608: Sculptor to the Medici, London: Art Council, 1978.
Budde, Hendrik and Nachama, Andreas (eds.), Die Reise nach Jerusalem : eine kulturhistorische Exkursion in die Stadt der Städte, 3000 Jahre Davidsstadt, Berlin : Jüdische Gemeinde zu Berlin, 1995


Gilt bronze; Wood


High relief; Carving

Subjects depicted

Cave; Woman; Crosses; Tree trunk; Hill; Male; Tomb


Sculpture; Christianity; Religion; Reliefs


Sculpture Collection

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