The Benefice Cross of Ampfield, Chilworth and North Baddesely

The dead Christ?

North Baddesley parish owns a painting of the dead Christ. Contemplating it makes a hard stop in holy week. Not for us a convenient jump to the exalted discovery of Easter resurrection.

The dead Christ: attributed to Annibale Carracci

At the crucifixion Jesus hung dying a terrorist’s death under Roman law. His body would in due course receive a dishonourable burial. The Jesus movement was apparently  at a very final end.

Yet the painting we hold ‘The dead Christ’ attributed to Annibale Carracci shows the body of Jesus stretched out misshapen and grey being prepared for a peaceful burial by his mother and others. Is it entirely fanciful?

Amazingly as Jesus was dying, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus both members of the Jewish ruling council and secret Jesus followers outed themselves. Joseph goes off to see Pilate to seek permission to bury Jesus in a brand new tomb that he has had hacked out of the rock for his own family. 

So the painting we have isn’t fanciful. Smart powerful people took the unaccountable risk to give Jesus an honourable burial in accordance with Jewish practice. Joseph and Nicodemus must have known they were running a significant risk of imprisonment, torture and featuring in the next public execution.

‘The dead Christ’ is oil on canvas and attributed to Annibale Carracci. Whether it’s actually by Carracci is unclear, but we love it to bits. The painting was 'given to us by a previous patron of the parish as a celebration of the birth of our current patron Mrs Chamberlayn-McDonald of Cranbury Park. Following a theft, and a somewhat miraculous return, the painting is now held in trust off site, only making occasional visits to us for inspections. 

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