Left: Van Gogh's La Pietà after Delacroix, 1889.
While Van Gogh was at the hospital in Saint-Rémy he kept painting and he had a lithograph of Delacroix's painting that he used as model.
Van Gogh seldom used biblical themes thou he wanted to be a pastor during his youth following his father.
“I am not indifferent, and pious thoughts often console me in my suffering.” he wrote to Theo, his brother.
This is how he describes Delacroix's Pietà:
"The Delacroix is a "Pietà" that is to say the dead Christ with the Mater Dolorosa. The exhausted corpse lies on the ground in the entrance of a cave, the hands held before it on the left side, and the woman is behind it. It is in the evening after a thunderstorm, and that forlorn figure in blue clothes - the loose clothes are agitated by the wind - is sharply outlined against a sky in which violet clouds with golden edges are floating. She too stretches out her empty arms before her in a large gesture of despair, and one sees the good sturdy hands of a working woman. The shape of the figure with its streaming clothes is nearly as broad as it is high. And the face of the dead man is in the shadow - but the pale head of the woman stands out clearly against a cloud - a contrast which causes those two heads to seem like one somber-hued flower and one pale flower, arranged in such a way as mutually to intensify the effect."
Looking at the two paintings side by side is amazing.