'The Descent From The Cross'
by Rogier Van Der Weyden
transmitted 3 April 2010
Six hundred years ago, one painting in Northern Europe was prized above all others. Queens and Kings rivalled to own it. Other and lesser painters endlessly copied it. Anyone who saw it was struck with awe. The 'Descent from the Cross' was huge and overwhelming. The painter was a Flemish master, Rogier Van Der Weyden. He succeeded in this painting in doing something that no one before him and many after him could not do: he painted real human emotion.
Today it is one of the greatest masterpieces in Spain's National Gallery - the Prado - in Madrid. It was taken there by Philip II of Spain and survived great adventures - almost lost at sea and almost destroyed by German bombers in the Spanish Civil War. This Private Life tells the remarkable story of this painting.