Christ's Descent into Limbo

Pablo de Céspedes (Spanish, 1538-1608)

Currently on View in C208
Image Licensing

In this painting by the artist-theorist Pablo de Céspedes, the radiant, white-robed figure of Christ descends into hell to liberate the souls of the righteous. Behind him, Adam and Eve represent humankind, its origins, fall, and salvation. The idealized physical beauty of these figures signifies their restoration to a state of perfection. The painting of nudes, especially female ones, was extremely rare in Spain. It belongs to an intellectual context of creative self-consciousness in which the representation of the nude human form was regarded as the true measure of an artist’s ability. Significantly, Adam’s features appear to be those of Céspedes himself.

Private collection, Toledo, Spain, (Christopher Gonzalez-Aller, Madrid, Spain); purchased by the IMA in 2008 (TR10771).

Object Information

Pablo de Céspedes (Spanish, 1538-1608)
creation date
about 1600
oil on panel
15 x 17-3/4 in.
approximately 19 x 21-1/2 x 1-3/4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Allen Whitehill Clowes Fund, Gift of the Alfred Brod Galleries, Ltd. by exchange, Gift in Memory of William Ray Adams by exchange, Gift of Mrs. Elijah B. Martindale by exchange, James E. Roberts Fund by exchange, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg by exchange
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

You May Also Like