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The Dead Christ supported by an Angel
Cano, Alonso
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Cano, Alonso

Granada, 1601 - Granada, 1667

Cano, Alonso See author's file

The Dead Christ supported by an Angel

1646 - 1652. Oil on canvas.
Room 017A

In this painting, an angel with a sorrowful expression supports the body of Christ in an upright, seated position. The clearly visible wounds on Christ´s hands indicate He has already been crucified and has died. The bloodless colour of the limbs and bowed head add to a cadaverous appearance. At His feet, the washbasin, the two nails and the crown of thorns all evoke the recent crucifixion. The angel is thus presenting the body of Christ to the viewer, allowing us to contemplate each of its attributes.The work is typically dated to 1646-52, during Alonso Cano´s second period in Madrid, in which he was one of the court´s most active artists, creating works in fields as diverse as painting, drawing, sculpture and the design of altarpieces, Cano became established as one of the most forceful artistic personalities of seventeenthcentury Spain. The present painting is a typical example of his output during these years, showing Cano´s exploration of the expressive possibilities of light as a means of focusing our attention on a dramatic scene. Here, however -rather than insisting on the more pitiful aspects of the episode- Cano constructs a work whose primary purpose was to elicit deliberate, concentrated meditation.The painting exemplifies Cano´s taste for beauty, restraint, moderation and equilibrium, as well as his masterful application of soft, harmonious colours. It also depicts one of Cano´s preferred subjects: the naked human form. Occasionally, the protagonists of his works were female nudes but, given the enormous social and religious pressure against display of the female body, the majority of Cano´s nudes are male. The subject permitted painters like Cano to reflect on the classical ideal of the human body and the canon of proportions. Cano was also skilled at deploying flesh as an expressive vehicle, of which there is no better example than the body of the dead Christ in this painting, in which His formal perfection and the inert whiteness of His flesh contrast with the sentiment expressed by the angel and the darkness of the background, producing a work filled with calm and mystery.The dead Christ held by an angel is an example of an iconographic type with ancient roots in Western art. Its origins may be found in the so-called Christ of Saint Gregory, which represents the Saint´s vision of Christ flanked by two angels. It was a frequent subject among Italian artists of the Renaissance and the mannerist period, such as Antonello da Messina (c. 1430-79), or the followers of Michelangelo. It was also an iconographic subject circulated in prints, and it has been suggested that for this composition, Cano perhaps found inspiration in the mannerist prints of the Dutch artist-engraver Hendrick Goltiuz (1558-1617) (Portús, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 124).


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Cano, Alonso
The Dead Christ supported by an Angel
1646 - 1652
Height: 137 cm; Width: 100 cm
Bequest of Pablo Bosch y Barrau, 1916

Bibliography +

Martinez Chumillas, Manuel, Alonso Cano: estudio monográfico de la obra del insigne que fue de la catedral de Granada, Carlos Jaime, Madrid, 1949, pp. 100/ lám.116.

Alonso Cano: estudio y catálogo de la exposición, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1954, pp. 33.

Wethey, Harold, Alonso Cano: painter, sculptor, architect, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1955, pp. 151/ lám.81.

Wethey, Harold, Alonso Cano, pintor, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1958, pp. 21/ lám.25.

Orozco Díaz, Emilio, Alonso Cano y Su Escuela en el III Centenario de Su Muerte, Caja de Ahorros, Granada, 1968.

Pérez Sánchez, A.E, Breves novedades en torno a Cano. Un nuevo antecedente grabado. En:, III Centenario de Alonso Cano en Granada, 1970, pp. 265-273 [265-268].

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Puente, Joaquín de la, Del Greco a Goya, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1978.

Pita Andrade, José Manuel, Ob el Grieka Ob Goje, Narodni Muzei, Belgrado, 1981.

Wethey, Harold, Alonso Cano: pintor, escultor y arquitecto, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1983, pp. 85,118.

Cossío, Manuel B.1857-1935, Aproximación a la pintura española, Akal, Madrid, 1985, pp. 134/ lám.24.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 116.

Mena Marqués, Manuela B., Da el Greco a Goya: i secoli d'oro della pittura spagnola, Electa, Milano, 1986.

Du Greco a Goya: chefs-d'oeuvre du Prado et de collections e, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1989, pp. 92.

Karge, H, Vision Oder Wirklichkeit. Die Spanische Malerei Der Neuzeit, Klinkhardt & Biermann, Munich, 1991, pp. 143.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 119.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. nº1385.

Navarrete Prieto, Benito, La pintura andaluza del siglo XVII y sus fuentes grabadas, Fundación de Apoyo a la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 1998, pp. 149-150.

Triadó, Joan-Ramon, La Pintura Española. El Siglo de Oro, Carroggio, Barcelona, 1999, pp. 103.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 218.

El mundo de Carlos V : de la España medieval al siglo de Oro, Sociedad Estatal para la Conmemoración de los Cent, Madrid, 2000.

Esplendores de Espanha de el Greco a Velazquez, Arte Viva, Rio De Janeiro, 2000, pp. 201.

Alonso Cano: espiritualidad y modernidad artística : [IV Cen, Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de CulturaTf Editor, Sevilla, 2001, pp. 226.

Rodríguez G. de Ceballos, A., La religiosidad en el arte de Alonso Cano. En: Alonso Cano, 1601-1667. Arte e iconografía, Arzobispado de Granada, Granada, 2002, pp. 169-175.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 108.

Sacred Spain. Art and belief in the Spanish world, Indianapolis Museum of Art, New Haven, 2009, pp. n. 33.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 124-125 nº23.

Portús Pérez, Javier, Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: The Golden Age in the Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokio, 2018, pp. n.59.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2637.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1385.
Autor = Alonso Cano/ 1385. Asunto = Cristo asistido por un ángel (lienzo)

Exhibitions +

Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: the Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
13.06.2018 - 14.10.2018

Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: the Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
24.02.2018 - 27.05.2018

Velázquez and the Celebration of Painting: the Golden Age in the Museo del Prado
20.02.2018 - 27.05.2018

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Carlos V entre dos mundos culturales. De las tres culturas de la España medieval al Siglo de Oro
México D.F.
03.11.2000 - 28.02.2001

De El Greco a Velázquez. La cultura española durante la Unión Ibérica, 1580-1640
Río de Janeiro
12.07.2000 - 24.09.2000

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Obras maestras de la Pintura Española: del Siglo de Oro a Goya
14.06.1989 - 24.09.1989

Location +

Room 017A (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Objects from Christ's Passion

Update date: 26-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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