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Jacopo Pontormo (1494  1557)  The Deposition the Cross  Oil on wood, circa 15251528  313 cm × 192 cm (123 in × 76 in)  Church of Santa Felicita, Florence, Italy
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Title: The Deposition
Description:
 
Jacopo Pontormo
The Deposition the Cross
Oil on wood, circa 1525–1528
313 cm × 192 cm (123 in × 76 in)
Church of Santa Felicita, Florence, Italy

The Deposition the Cross is an altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo, completed in 1528. It is broadly considered to be the artist's surviving masterpiece. Painted in oil on wood, The Deposition is located above the altar of the Capponi Chapel at the church of Santa Felicita, in Florence.
 
Interpretation
This painting suggests a whorling dance of the grief-stricken. They inhabit a flattened space, comprising a sculptural congregation of brightly demarcated colors. The vortex of the composition droops down towards the limp body of Jesus off center in the left. Those lowering Christ appear to demand our help in sustaining both the weight of his body (and the burden of sin Christ took on) and of their grief. No Cross is visible; the natural world itself also appears to have nearly vanished: a lonely cloud and a shadowed patch of ground with a crumpled sheet provide sky and stratum for the mourners. If the sky and earth have lost color, the mourners have not; bright swathes of pink and blue envelop the pallid, limp Christ.

Pontormo's undulating mannerist contortions have been interpreted as intending to express apoplectic and uncontrolled spasms of melancholy. The Virgin, larger than her counterparts, swoons sideways inviting the support of those behind her. The assembly looks completely interlocked, as if architecturally integrated. Legend has it that Pontormo set himself in self-portrait at the extreme right of the canvas; but ultimately, the most compelling and empathic figure is the crouching man in the foreground, whose expression mixes the weight of the cadaver and the weight of melancholy.

Other works
The Deposition the Cross is one of the standard scenes the life of Jesus in medieval art, and because of the complexities of the composition, it is one in which Renaissance artists continued to take a great interest. Several years prior to Pontormo's masterpiece, the Florentine painter Rosso Fiorentino had painted a more phantasmagorical and gymnastically challenged array in his crowded version of the descent the cross, the Deposition of 1521.

Pontormo's grieving crowds and brightness of color also provide a stark contrast to Caravaggio's somber Deposition the Cross or Entombment  in the Vatican Pinacoteca  The Deposition by Raphael in the Galleria Borghese shows a later, though related scene: the Entombment of Christ.

In addition to works of the same subject by other artists, Pontormo's own work the time provides a useful comparison. The decoration in the dome of the Capponi chapel is now lost, but four roundels with the Evangelists still adorn the pendentives, which were painted by both Pontormo and his apprentice Bronzino. The swathed drapery inThe Visitation (1529) in the church of San Michele e Francesco at Carmignano bears a striking resemblance to that in the Deposition. Finally, the contrapposto of the figures can be compared to Pontormo's Annunciation (1520s) frescoed on the adjacent wall.
 
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Jacopo Pontormo (1494  1557)  The Deposition the Cross  Oil on wood, circa 15251528  313 cm × 192 cm (123 in × 76 in)  Church of Santa Felicita, Florence, Italy
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