Dostoevsky saw this painting "The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb" ( 1520–22) by the German artist and print-maker Hans Holbein the Younger, when traveling in Switzerland, and was so struck by it that he climbed up on a chair in order to look at it more closely. In his 1869 novel "The Idiot", the character Prince Myshkin, having viewed the painting in the home of Rogozhin, declares that it has the power to make the viewer lose his faith.

The work shows a life-size, grotesque depiction of the stretched and unnaturally thin body of Jesus Christ lying in his tomb. Holbein shows the dead Son of God after he has suffered the fate of an ordinary human.

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