Tintoretto's painting was made for the altar of the Dal Basso family chapel in the Venetian church of San Francesco della Vigna. Prints of the altarpiece record its original appearance before it was cut from its frame. It was taller and arched in shape, with a flying angel at the top holding a crown of thorns. The angel's feet are just visible at the top of the canvas. Below Christ's elongated body in the centre is that of his swooning grief-stricken mother. The painted flickering torch light heightens the mood of despair.