The scene captured in this dark and moody painting has several names with which Christians might refer to it. Biblical passages talk of Christ's experiences between his crucifixion and resurrection. The artist here calls it his fall into limbo, where as others call it the Harrowing of Hell or Descent into Hell.
Whilst trapped in this void, Jesus Christ would bring salvation to all those who had died since the start of the world, so long as they were righteous people. It marks a significant moment in Christian teachings and also provides a further morale story to help guide its followers. The entire story is ideally suited to the sombre colours that Sebastiano used in the latter parts of his career.
The trials and tribulations from the life of Jesus Christ are, of course, very well documented - both in the original texts and also in visual formats from artists right across the artistic spectrum. It would take too long to mention all of the artists here but some of the highlights include Lorenzo Ghiberti's North Doors which capture many scenes from his life in sculptured bronze panels, plus also Sandro Botticelli's series of drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy which focus on the different level of hell.