Different from the paintings of the past masters and their interpretation of this scene, Bouguereau gives a unique view of this sacred event. Although he follows the standards of traditional Christian religious imagery, the atmosphere is entirely different, mainly because of Mary’s presence. The artist portrays the mother of Christ in almost a state of disbelief, clutching onto her son’s dead body that lays in her lap. Both figures stand centered on the canvas and have an ornamented, golden halo around their head. Mary stares directly into the viewer’s eyes in deep sorrow. Tears fall from her red eyes while her lip quivers from weeping. While other artists portrayed Mary giving her son to the world during this moment in a humbling posture, Bouguereau depicts her as a mother like any other, mournful and unaccepting of her son’s death. She wears a black cloak over her head that casts a shadow over her eyes.
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