Mantegna’s Deposition

Deposition, detail of Christ
The group of sculptures in polychrome terracotta, now in the parish church in Medole, was attributed to Guido Mazzoni (1440/50-1518) nicknamed “il Modanino”, but following recent restoration, it was recognized as an extraordinary example of an anonymous artist closely linked to the school of Mantegna, who certainly inspired its composition. 

Its arrangement closely resembles “La Deposizione di Cristo” (The Deposition of Christ) by the Paduan artist, especially in the posture of the characters, in the striking rendering of the faces, in the great emphasis and pathos that characterize all the statues, which takes Mantegna’s dramatic structure to extremes. 

The courteous attitude of the Mary who is helping fainting Virgin Mary, screaming Magdalene, heartbroken Saint John the Evangelist, all find specific references in many works of the Paduan artist: here his superb craftsmanship comes out powerfully in all its intensity. 

The attribution of the work to a plastic artist from the close circle of master Andrea – hypothesis put forward by Giuliana Algeri – is clearly recognisable in the shades of colour of the polychromy, which takes from Mantegna the usual combinations of red and acid green, of white and ochre. 

The work comes from the demolished church of the Annunciation, joined to the fifteenth-century Augustine convent and built on the border between the towns of Castelgoffredo and Medole. 

It is in relation to this work that the people of Medole hand down a legend from generation to generation: at the end of the 18 th century, after the suppression of the aforementioned convent, the Deposizione should have been moved to Castelgoffredo the following morning, but it was stolen night-time by the inhabitants of Medole themselves who, while carrying the statue on a cart, are supposed to have chipped the statue of Christ…..Hence, this traditional folk poem: 


Deposition of Christ in the tomb, Andrea Mantegna engraver, Chiari (BS), Pinacoteca Repossi.
Deposition, Le Marie

Medulesi tristi tristi
roba santi e s’cianca Cristi.
Se vulì sain òna po’ bela:
i ghà purtat vià el Signùr co la barela.


Medolesi tristi tristi
ladri di Santi e demolitori di statue sacre.
Se volete saperne una più bella:
loro hanno portato via Cristo con la barella.