between 1745 and 1750
Limewood with transparent coating
Height 45 cm
Accompanied by two women, Joseph of Arimathea and St John are wrapping the dead Christ in a shroud. The ladder still leans against the cross: the deposition has only just occurred. Beside Christ is a sarcophagus alluding to his entombment. The cross and the compact group of figures are combined in a triangular composition which forms a striking contrast to the void of the relief surface constituting the background. Only one of the two women, probably the grieving Mother of God, towers up against the empty background. In his relief style, the sculptor Johann Paul Egell liked to juxtapose opposites: here soft body forms contrast with sharp folds in the garments.
This relief was probably part of a larger ensemble. It dates from between 1745 and 1750, the period which saw the creation of the altar (destroyed during the French Revolution) of the Loreto chapel in Oggersheim in the Rhineland-Palatinate. The work seen here may have served as a door for the “tabernacle”, in which the host was stored. In that case it would have given access to the redeeming Eucharist in reality as well. Of all the figures, only that of Joseph of Arimathea has a fully three-dimensional head and individualized facial features. Perhaps this head is a likeness of the relief ’s – or the tabernacle’s – donor.
In addition to this relief by Egell, one of the most important German Rococo sculptors, the Liebieghaus possesses works by his pupils Ignaz Günther (1725–1775), Johann Friedrich Ziesenis (1715–1785), Johann Michael Düchert (1725–1799) and Johann Peter Wagner (1730–1809).