William Bouguereau personalised the participants in this terrible event of the Passion of Our Lord. The angels are individual characters showing individual responses.
Mary is primarily a mother who has lost her only Son.
This personal tribute to the overwhelming despair of a bereft parent is contained and concentrated within a classical format.The formality of the construction: the rainbow of angels, the detailed, almost photo-realist, wine jug, enables the viewer to feel the pain and yet not be swept away by it.
This painting was completed soon after the artist's own son died. One need's no great imagine to see the role his own grief played in creating a tableau of such sorrow.