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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Annibale Carracci
Italian, 1560–1609

Christ of Caprarola (Pietá)

Etching, engraving, drypoint, 1597
Winthrop H. Perry Fund, 1913.91

Made in Caprarola while Annibale Carracci was working there on his famous frescoes for the Farnese Palace, this image depicts Christ’s mother and followers mourning his death. The body of the crucified Christ lies lifeless in his mother Mary’s arms. She is being supported and comforted by another woman. Mary Magdalene and the Apostle St. John sit side-by-side on the ground behind the body and examine Christ’s pierced hand.The composition forms a pyramid with the figures dominating the picture. Very little foreground or background is visible and the space is condensed and shallow. This lack of perceived space is a Baroque technique focusing the attention of the viewer on the primary figures.