Leon KossoffThe Lamentation over the Dead Christ (2) 1998

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Artwork details

Leon Kossoff (born 1926)
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (2)
Date 1998
MediumEtching on paper
Acquisition Presented by Peter and Liz Goulds 1999
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms


This print is one of many etchings executed by Leon Kossoff in response to, and literally in the presence of, oil paintings by old masters; in this case The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1656-8, by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), owned by the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. Tate owns two prints by Kossoff after this Poussin painting (Tate P11721-2). The artist’s ability to explore a number of separate responses while making drawings and prints from a single subject is illustrated in these etchings. Tate owns the only artist’s proof of this version.

In the Poussin painting a group of mourning figures kneel and gesture above the prone body of the dead Christ. Mary stands above them looking down at her son. The compositional structure is spare, with the main elements being vertical and horizontal lines formed by the landscape and the figures. The rhythms of the original work are emphasised by Kossoff through his repeated use of horizontal lines to mark out the space around the characters. The figure of the Virgin Mary standing over the body of her son is depicted in little more than a collection of vertical lines. These are mirrored by the vertical structure of the wall to the left of the characters… (read more)

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