The Rijksmuseum received a masterpiece by Bartholomeus Spranger, The Body of Christ Supported by Angels, painted on copper ca. 1587. The new acquisition will be on display alongside other masterpieces by artists from the same region, including Adriaen de Vries and Joachim Wtewael when the Rijksmuseum reopens on 1 June 2020.
The painting was donated by art dealer, collector and CODART Patron Bob Haboldt in commemoration of all the CODVID-19 victims. About his gift he said: “Coronavirus has affected me, in the first place emotionally. It gave me occasion to reflect on how I could make a contribution, and on how we could best memorialize this period. What is wonderful about paintings is that they are eternal and can serve as monuments to the difficult times in which we find ourselves. With this thought in mind, I came to the decision that I would donate this exceptional work by Bartholomeus Spranger to the Rijksmuseum. In the first place, it is a gift to everyone to commemorate the victims of COVID-19; it also serves as an example, encouraging everyone to do good for museums. I hope that others will follow.”
Spranger’s painting on this small copper plate is a powerful and poignant image of compassion, or imago pietatis. It shows angels supporting the body of Christ, illuminated by heavenly light. This Man of Sorrows is presented to us almost frontally. The angel in the foreground holds a basket containing attributes associated with the passion, such as the crown of thorns and the nails used to crucify Christ. In the background the three Marys are shown making their way to the grave that they will find empty.
This painting was made for private devotion, but quickly garnered wide fame when, in 1587, Hendrick Goltzius copied it as a print that was reproduced and distributed in large numbers.