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Christ Carried to the Tomb

Badalocchio Sisto (?)

(Parma 1585 - after 1620)

The question of this work’s attribution is a complex one and wavers between Sisto Badalocchio and Antonio Carracci, the nephew of Annibale, to whom we probably owe the lost prototype of the subject. The painting depicts the moment when the body of Christ, removed from the cross, is about to be laid in the tomb. The work is composed of the group of Mary with the pious women at the bottom left, and, on the right, by the group of John with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who, accompanied by Mary Magdalene, carries the winding sheet with the body of Jesus.

Object details

primo decennio del 1600
oil on canvas
cm 123 x 168

19th-century frame decorated with acanthus leaves and lotus flowers (157.5 x 205 x 16 cm)



Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 37; purchased by Italian state, 1902.

  • 1956 Bologna, Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio
  • 1985 Roma, Palazzo Venezia
  • 1996-1997 Roma, Musei Capitolini
  • 2016 Roma, Musei Capitolini
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1947 Carlo Matteucci (pulitura e verniciatura).


The provenance of this work is unknown. It is mentioned for the first time in the Inventario Fidecommissario of 1833 as a work from the ‘Bolognese school’ and was attributed to Annibale Carracci by both Giovanni Piancastelli (1891) and Adolfo Venturi (1893). Over the next century, critics continued to believe that the work came from that circle, while suggesting the names of different artists. In 1906-7, Hans Tietze in fact ascribed it to Giovanni Lanfranco, an opinion rejected by Roberto Longhi (1928), who rather saw in the painting the hand of Antonio Carracci, Agostino’s son and Annibale’s nephew. For his part, Denis Mahon (1951, pp. 82-84) suggested Sisto Badalocchio. While Paola della Pergola noted traces of Lanfranco’s style in the canvas, she accepted Longhi’s thesis, publishing the work in the catalogue of the Galleria Borghese under the name of the young Carracci (1955, pp. 23-24).

Since then, the question of attribution has continued to be a complex one, as critics have still not reached agreement on the artist responsible for the work. Some have repeated the name of Sisto Badalocchio (Salerno 1956, pp. 35-36; Frisoni 1980, p. 34, no. 1; Whitfield 1996, pp. 125-126), while others have favoured that of Lanfranco (Aldo De Rinaldis 1948, p. 64; Marina Causa Picone 1989-90, p. 200; Fabrizio Lollini 1995, pp. 139-48, who dated the work to 1609-10). In 2007, Massimo Pirondini published the painting in his monograph on Antonio Carracci (2007, pp. 168-169); his 2004 volume on Badalocchio, meanwhile, had excluded its attribution to that artist. In Pirondini’s view, the figures represented here are comparable – if not perfectly identical – to those in other works by Antonio Carracci, with the same profiles and corporeal consistency.

The painting portrays the transport of Christ’s body to the tomb, in accordance with the narratives of the Gospels. The scene is divided into two parts: on the left, we see the group of the three Marys – the Virgin, Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome – while on the right we find John the Evangelist, Mary Magdalen, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who is depicted wearing a luxuriant turban.

While clearly showing the influence of the Bolognese school, the work certainly alludes to Raphael’s famous Deposition (inv. no. 369). According to Pirondini, the painting in question employs several of Caravaggio’s typical techniques, in particular the use of twilight and the progressive fading of colours toward more sombre tones.

  Antonio Iommelli

  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 223; 
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 180; 
  • H. Tietze, Annibale Carracci’s Tätigkeit in Rom, in “Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien”, XXVI, 1906-1907, p. 168; 
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, pp. 130, 180; 
  • A. De Rinaldis, Catalogo della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1948, p. 64; 
  • P. Della Pergola, Itinerario della Galleria Borghese, Roma 1951, p. 39; 
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955; 
  • L. Salerno, L’opera di Antonio Carracci, in “Bollettino d’arte”, XLI, 1956, p. 35; 
  • G.C. Cavalli, in Mostra dei Carracci, catalogo della mostra (Bologna, Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, 1956), a cura di G.C. Cavalli, Bologna 1956, 1956, p. 250; 
  • M.V. Brugnoli, Nota alla mostra dei Carracci, in “Bollettino d’Arte”, XLI, 1956, p. 359; 
  • D. Mahon, Afterthought on the Carracci Exhibition, in “Gazette des Beaux Arts”, VI, 1957, p. 296; 
  • L. Salerno, Per Sisto Badalocchio e cronologia del Lanfranco, in “Commentari”, IX, 1958, pp. 48, 50; 
  • M. Calvesi, Annibale Carracci, voce in Enciclopedia universale dell’arte, III, 1958, p. 205; 
  • R. Longhi, Saggi e ricerche 1925-28. Precisioni nelle gallerie italiane. La Galleria Borghese, Firenze 1967, pp. 318-320, 334; 
  • M. Causa Picone, Sisto Badalocchio: un ’petit-maître’ parmense tra i Carracci e Lanfranco, in "Prospettiva", LVII-LX, 1989-1990, pp. 195-204; 
  • C. Whitfield, scheda in Classicismo e natura: la lezione di Domenichino, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Musei Capitolini, 1996-1997), a cura di S. Guarino, P. Masini, Milano 1996, pp. 125-126, n. 15; 
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 373; 
  • G. Berti, scheda in M. Pirondini, Sisto Badalocchio (1585-1621/22), Manerba del Garda 2004, pp. 53-54: 
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 20.