Artibus et Historiae no. 64 (XXXII)

2011, ISSN 0391-9064

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LIANA DE GIROLAMI CHENEY - Giorgio Vasari: The Carrying of the Body of Christ

This essay examines the iconography of one of Giorgio Vasari’s first paintings The Carrying of the Body of Christ of 1532. The study consists of three parts: (1) the reconstruction of the history of this painting; (2) an artistic analysis of the classical and Mannerist influences employed by Vasari in the painting; and (3) a suggested iconological interpretation of the image.

In The Carrying of the Body of Christ, Vasari depicts through the mediation of Christ’s death a visual testimony of salvation for the Christian devotee. In the creative realm, Vasari composes a new artistic fusion: the imitation of antiquity with Mannerist aesthetic. This artistic mutation creates a new invention in the depiction of the istoria of the passion of Christ. In the spiritual realm, the istoria of the carrying of the holy body is a transitory time from the descent from the cross to the deposition, and His interment.

In depicting this theme, Vasari invites the viewer to also reflect on the transformation of the Christian church after the Sack of Rome in 1527. The selected moment in the painting is of great significance. It is a pause before burying the precious body of Christ. For the carrying of the body to its resting place, Vasari composes a visual silence and a spiritual suspended movement for viewers to meditate on mortality, but with the hope of salvation through Christ’s death.

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