Palma il Giovane, The Descent into Limbo

Circa 1600
Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice

While a workman takes down the crosses raised three days earlier the resurrected Christ goes to rescue Adam, Eve, and the others from the underworld. The figure of Christ is imported from Tintoretto's Resurrection canvases, where he seems to be in flight, with his feet treading the air and his cape billowing in the wind.

Remarkably, the reactions of those who are to be rescued are decidedly ambiguous. Eve bends away from light falling on her from Christ, her eyes averted and her arms hiding her breasts. And the raised arms of the others could be signs of either acclamation or frightful surprise. Their reactions are doubled by the two friars in the lower right corner: One turns from the scene to address to his companion, who has opened his arms as if in acceptance but keeps his gaze cast downward.

The friars, who look as if they could be specific individuals, represent the Franciscans whose priory was attached to Santa Maria Gloriosa.

Read more about images of the Descent into Hell.

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.