The work of this anonymous artist of the first half of the 15th century is characterised by his use of International Gothic stylistic devices in the composition of his paintings. The long, narrow format suggests that the panel may have formed part of a triptych or diptych in which the artist made use of its shape to depict the cross and organise the space on the front face. We thus see Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in the upper level, lowering Christ’s body from the cross, while the lower left area depicts the Virgin with Saint John and the Holy Women and the right side, a group of elegantly dressed men. The Virgin’s suffering is the principal motif in the lower part of the panel, reflecting accounts of her fainting to be found in religious texts. The subject on the reverse of the panel is unusual: Christ on the route to Calvary looks at a nun who walks behind him, also bearing a cross. The subject is derived from a late medieval poem of the early 15th century that is included in the lower part of the composition.
The reverse of the panel has an unusual subject comprising the reproduction of a poem with its illustration above. Christ on the route to Calvary drags the cross with both hands as he turns to look at a nun who follows him, also bearing a heavy cross. According to the text, which is a late medieval poem, Christ exhorted a nun to take up her cross and follow him. The text, which dates from the early 15th century, was widely disseminated and known and was the subject of study by Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1834. His findings have made it possible to speculate on the origins of this panel, as he noted that the dialect in which the text is written corresponds to an area of the Middle Rhine. According to Lübbeke this should be considered the place of origin of the panel, which he dated to around 1420, both due to the characteristics of the poem and the style of the painting, which corresponds to the International Gothic. In addition, Lübbeke compared the present Descent from the Cross with a Crucifixion also attributed to an anonymous master active in the Middle Rhine area, now in the Städelsche Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt. He detected certain parallels between that panel and the present one, such as the treatment of the hands and the chromatic range with its emphasis on shades of bright colours such as green and red.