Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Model - The Descent from the Cross
  • The Descent from the Cross
    Sansovino, Jacopo, born 1486 - died 1570
  • Enlarge image

The Descent from the Cross

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Rome (probably, modelled)

  • Date:

    ca. 1513 (modelled)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sansovino, Jacopo, born 1486 - died 1570 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt wax and wood, in full relief

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case 21

Christ is shown at the centre, being lowered from the Cross. The two thieves have already been taken down. To the right, two men stagger under the weight of one of them, while the penitent thief is caught on the ladder that leans against his cross. The swooning figure of the Virgin is attended by two of the Maries and St John. The 'instruments of the Passion' (a hammer, pincers and the Crown of Thorns) lie on the ground.

The scene is identical to that described by the famous painter and biographer Giorgio Vasari, who stated that Jacopo Sansovino made a wax model of the Descent from the Cross while he was in Rome (in 1506-1511) for use by the painter Perugino. This is probably accurate, as copies of a lost painting by Perugino, clearly based on the present model, still survive. An early work by the painter Andrea del Sarto in the Pinacoteca del Seminario, Venice, also appears to have been derived from this model.

Sansovino was born and trained in Florence, but worked in Rome before settling in Venice in 1527. There he became the leading sculpture and architect, establishing a major school of followers who worked primarily in marble and bronze.

The wooden tabernacle in which the model is housed dates from the early 16th century. Around 1550 the model was in the collection of Giovanni Gaddi in Florence, and in 1766 the painter and art critic Ignazio Hugford bought it from the Casa Gaddi. Hugford may have been responsible for repainting the now faded landscape on the back board. The model then entered the collection of Ottavio Gigli in 1855, and was one of the works acquired for the Museum from the Gigli-Campana Collection.

Physical description

Model, wax, gilt, in full relief, representing the Deposition from the cross.

Place of Origin

Rome (probably, modelled)


ca. 1513 (modelled)


Sansovino, Jacopo, born 1486 - died 1570 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Gilt wax and wood, in full relief


Height: 97.8 cm overall, Width: 89.5 cm overall, Height: 76.2 cm relief, Width: 72.4 cm relief

Object history note

The model is identical with that described by Giorgio Vasari, the famous painter and biographer, who stated that Jacopo Sansovino, while in Rome (1506-11), made a model for the 'Descent of the Christ' for the use of the painter Perugino. This is likely to be correct, since copies of a lost painting by Perugino based on this model survive. A 'Deposition' by Andrea del Sarto is also related (Pinacoteca del Seminario, Venice). The model was owned in the mid-sixteenth century by Monsignor Giovanni Gaddi and was bought from the Casa Gaddi in Florence in 1766 by Ignazio Hugford, before entering the collection of Ottavio Gigli by 1855. The much damaged landscape painting in the background may have been repainted by Ignazio Hugford, who was a painter and art critic.

Descriptive line

Gilt wax and wood model by Jacopo Sansovino, Italy (possibly Rome), ca. 1513.

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

Williamson, Paul, ed. European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996. 191p., ill. ISBN 1851771883.
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1861 In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 19
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, pp. 134, 135
Raggio, Olga. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Art Bulletin. Vol. L, 1968, p. 98
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume II: Text. Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 417-419
Boucher, Bruce. The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansorino. New Haven and London, 1991, Vol II, p. 316, Vol I, pp. 10-11
Mariacher, Giovanni. La Scultura del Cinquecento. In: series Storia dell'Arte in Italia, Turin 1987, p. 117, ill. p. 118
Russel, Francis. 'An overlooked Perugino drawing at Saltram'. In: Apollo, Vol CXLI, no. 398, April 1995, p. 14, n. 4, illus. 3
Williamson, Paul (ed), European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1996, pp. 94-95
Whitaker, Lucy. 'Tintoretto's drawings after sculpture and his workshop practice'.In: Currie, S and Motture, P., eds. The Sculpted Object 1400-1700. Aldershot, 1997, p. 187, p. 191, note 66




Gilding; Relief


Ph_survey; Sculpture; Christianity; Religion


Sculpture Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.