Guariento di Arpo Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece: Detail, The Deposition and the Anastasis
Tempera and gold leaf on panel
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California
The left panel is an adaptation of Duccio di Buoninsegna's
1311 painting. The artist deletes some of the women, transfers Mary Magdalene to the foot of the cross, and adds a pink sarcophagus and a stylized Calvary.
On the right the artist follows eastern practice in referencing the Resurrection by picturing the Anastasis: Having broken down the doors of the underworld, Christ takes Adam by the hand while Eve and others follow. The one untraditional touch is the banner, which is taken from western images of Christ's emergence from a sarcophagus. The words on the banner, printed backward as if showing through from the other side, are vi[c]tor mortis, "victor over death."
Actually, both panels are about Christ's victory. Although the foreground of the left panel expresses the pathos of his death, the background speaks to its joyous effect. Clumps of flowers emerge from the solid rock of Calvary, and the empty tomb is borrowed from western images of the Resurrection. The fissures in the hill and the opening in the bottom right corner may refer to Matthew 27:51b-52, "the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent. And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose." Then on the right panel we see those saints emerging from Calvary itself, where tradition held that Adam had been buried.
The man reaching out from behind Adam is St. John the Baptist, identified by his halo and camel-skin tunic. In the Gospel of Nicodemus it is he who tells the prophets and patriarchs that Christ is coming to rescue them.
Another western adaptation of the Anastasis is a fresco in Florence's San Marco convent, where Christ again holds a banner with a cross as he takes Adam by the hand.
View this image in full resolution.
Read more about images of The Descent from the Cross.
Read more about images of the Anastasis in the East and the Resurrection in the West.
Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.