Christ's Descent into Limbo

Creation date
oil on panel
15 x 17-3/4 in.
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
Accession number
Currently On View

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).
Reproduction of these images, including downloading, is prohibited without written authorization from VAGA.

350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2820
New York, NY 10118
Tel: 212-736-6666
Fax: 212-736-6767