In the foreground, the Virgin holds Christ’s body with the help of Joseph of Arimathea. Mary Magdalene stands near her, wringing her hands in grief. Behind them, forming a frieze, St John and the holy women weep. On the right, Nicodemus prepares the tomb for Christ’s body. In the background, Joseph, Nicodemus and Our Lady pick up Christ’s body taken down from the cross.
The influence of Roger van der Weyden and his epigones can be seen here in the portrayal of the group in mourning. Likewise, St John wiping his eyes is directly inspired by Jan van Eyck’s panel of the Crucifixion now housed in Berlin. Because of the age of the works used as models, it is not inconceivable that Meckenem was aware of these two paintings thanks to an engraving by Master E.S. to whom they are attributed and who died in the late 1460s. Although Meckenem portrays the figures in great distress, he does not show them weeping, whereas Testard painted tears running down the cheeks of Our Lady, Mary Magdalene, St John and several holy women, which suggests that he too was familiar with the work of Roger van der Weyden, one of the first artists to portray the crystal-clear tears of the persons close to Christ so masterfully in different paintings.
Musée du Louvre