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Legends of the Madonna - The Entombment

( Originally Published 1895 )



THE ENTOMBMENT. In the early pictures there is little distinction between this subject and the death of the Virgin. If the figure of Christ stand over the recumbent form, holding in his arms the emancipated soul, then it is the Transito the death or sleep; but when a sarcophagus is in the centre of the picture, and the body lies extended above it on a sort of sheet or pall held by angels or apostles, it may be determined that it is the Entombment of the Virgin after her death. In a small and very beautiful picture by Angelico we have distinctly this representation. She lies, like one asleep, on a white pall, held reverently by the mourners. They prepare to lay her in a marble sarcophagus. St. John, bearing the starry palm, appears to address a man in a doctor's cap and gown, evidently intended for Dionysius the Areopagite. Above, in the sky, the soul of the Virgin, surrounded by most graceful angels, is received into heaven. This group is distinguished from the group below by being painted in a dreamy bluish tint, like solidified light, or like a vision. [Once] in the possession of W. Fuller Maitland,l Esq. Engraved in the " Etruria Pittrice."



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