Giovanni Bellini, the Lament from the Vatican Museums
Giovanni Bellini, the Lament from the Vatican Museums

Giovanni Bellini, the Lament from the Vatican Museums

Four contemporary artists in dialogue with a masterpiece

20 February – 11 May 2024
Carlo Maria Martini Diocesan Museum, Milan

In the time of Lent and Easter, the Vatican Museums renew their partnership with the Carlo Maria Martini Diocesan Museum in the context of the traditional appointment, A Masterpiece for Milan. The initiative, now in its 16th edition, offers every year to a vast national and international public the opportunity to admire a universal work of art.
From 20 February to 11 May 2024, the Lament over the Dead Christ by Giovanni Bellini (1438/1440-1516), from the Vatican Pinacoteca, will be the masterpiece displayed in the Milanese museum as an impetus to a reflection, not only art historical, but also spiritual, providing the visitor with the possibility of focusing on the theme of the Passion of Christ.

The precious panel, conserved today in the Pope’s Museums, originally constituted the cymatium of the imposing Pesaro Altarpiece, painted by Bellini between 1472 and 1474 for the high altar of the church of San Francesco in Pesaro and now in the Civic Museums. It is one of the greatest masterpieces of Italian painting, marking the painter's maturity and sealing his role as the leader of the Venetian painting school. The scene depicts the moment when Christ’s body, shortly before entombment, is anointed with oils and perfumes. In a restricted and compressed space, rendered with a strongly foreshortened cut from bottom to top that takes into account the height at which the table must have stood, the statuesque presence of the four characters - Christ, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and the Magdalene, who holds Jesus' hand in her own - stands out.

The exhibition, as already suggested in the title, is completed with a section that presents the works of four contemporary artists in dialogue with Bellini’s masterpiece and with the themes, eternal and always relevant, suggested by the work, such as death, suffering, mercy and, in particular, the value of care. The exhibition initiative is jointly curated by Nadia Righi, Director of the Carlo Maria Martini Diocesan Museum, Fabrizio Biferali, Curator of the Vatican Museums Department of XV-XVI Century Art, and Giuseppe Frangi, President of the Giovanni Testori Association.