Holbein vs. Mantegna: Dead or Alive?

Mantegna, "Dead Christ"

Holbein, "Dead Christ"

When I was in college, sculptor Peter Hide, said to me, “People only like the art that they are ready for.”  This came up when we were discussing Rubens, an artist whose work I had not seen much of in person and didn’t strongly relate to.

To Peter’s observation I would add that there is some art you can’t possibly understand, or at least understand fully, until you have had certain experiences.

I am in my fifties, or as a counselor I know calls it, “the decade of death”, a time when you find yourself attending more funerals than weddings. I will spare you the details, but it is because of my recent experiences with the grim reaper that I know that the model for Mantegna‘s (1431-1506)  Dead Christ is alive and the model for Holbein‘s (c1498-15430)  Dead Christ is dead, and most likely dead from pancreatic cancer.

If you go:

Pinacoteca Brera, Milan, Italy

Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland