A man seated on a throne under a canopy at the right looks toward a group of standing figures at the left. A group of soldiers in helmets and armor and spears surround a tall bearded man who stands looking at the seated official. In the distance is a view of a town in a landscape and at the feet of the seated man is a dog.
After his arrest, Christ was taken to several authorities in Jerusalem, including Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, the high priest and member of the Sanhedrin where Christ underwent beatings and questioning. The scene Dürer portrayed was the moment of Caiaphas' outrage when Christ, asked by Caiaphas if he is the Messiah, answers, "You have said so."
A group of four men gently lower a figure into a tomb that is placed parallel to the viewer. To the left is a group of mourners with hands clasped or holding a covered jar. Behind the figures is a rocky landscape with a fence and guard at the gate in the distance at the left. In the rocks of the foreground is a dark opening. At the lower right corner is a circle composed of thorny branches.
After his crucifixion, Christ was buried in a tomb by his followers. The evidence of his Passion can be seen in the wounds in his hand and feet and in the crown of thornes at the foot of the tomb. The Virgin and St. John stand watching while other mourners sit at the far left.
A group of figures at the left stand in a vaulted space under a cross. They look towards the lower right of the composition where a man holding a standard with a cross on top is bending forward and offering his hand to an old bearded man in an arched doorway. Above the doorway are several fantastical figures with beaked or animal heads and arms with claws.
After his death and before the Resurrection, Christ descended into Hell to bring out righteous people who had lived before him, including Adam and Eve, Moses, and other Old Testament prophets. Here Christ holds a standard in his left hand while he brings out of hell one of these patriarchs with his right hand. Other redeemed figures look on as the man at the lower right is released from Hell.
Signed on block, l.c.: V G Inscriptions: Verre filis dei erat isse INRI Example with printed German text on back from one of the editions (1506-09) of "Der Text des passions oder lydens Christi..." publ. by Knobloch, Strassburg.