Jacopo Pontormo, The Entombment or The Deposition, 1526-1528, oil on panel, 123” × 76”, Capponi Chapel, Church of Santa Felicita, Florence, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Jacopo Pontormo’s Strangeness

What’s going on in this painting?  The artist didn’t want it to be easy to figure out.

An Italian Renaissance painter would have made the subject clear and provided easily identifiable figures in a clearly defined space.  Jacopo Pontormo, a leading representative of the Mannerist movement in Italy, showed that he very well knew how to do all of that by not doing it.

Sometimes art historians call this painting, The Deposition, yet there is no cross; however, there isn’t a tomb either, which makes it just as wrong to call it The Entombment.

There is a large void in the center of the composition.  The main figures of Jesus and Mary are pushed out toward the edges among a crowd of confused and confusing figures looking nervously in different directions.   The colors are odd and contrasting and the space is compressed and undefined.

Pontormo broke every rule in the book, thereby demonstrating his creative skills.