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Deposition from the Cross

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This painted sketch was made by Augustus Vincent Tack (1870-1949) some time before 1939 and was hung above the altar at the Church of Saint James in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. As a religious object, it is loaded with Christian symbolism. It depicts the time just after Jesus' death. He is being lowered from the cross by a small group of supporters, clustered in the central frame, come to reclaim the body. The painting idealizes them since they have risked their safety just by being identified as Jesus' followers. To the left are the people of Palestine, rendered here as either indifferent or hostile; to the right, a centurion (Roman soldier) represents the authority that ultimately sentenced Jesus to death. Above the drawing are words drawn from the Roman Catholic church's Good Friday liturgy. During this ritual, known as the Adoration of the Cross, the scene pictured is reenacted. Tack included key phrases from the ritual here: on the painting's upper edge, in Greek, is "Holy Immortal, O Holy God," while running along the bottom, in Latin, "O my people, what have I done to thee? or wherein have I afflicted thee? Answer me."


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