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Christ Carrying the Cross

Jheronimus Bosch
1510 - 1516
83 cm x 76.7 cm
Inventory number: 
Museum of Fine Arts Ghent
Category A: Flemish primitives
16th century Christs Carrying the Cross
Religious scenes

Christ Carrying the Cross belongs to the late works of Jheronimus Bosch and is one of the most intriguing compositions in western art. Any feel of space has been abandoned here. A chaotic mass of evil-looking faces flock around the head of Christ. The construction of the painting is, however, rather severe. The head of Christ lies precisely on the intersection of two diagonals. The balk of the cross forms one of the diagonals, with above on the left the figure of Simon of Cyrene and under on the right the figure of the bad murderer. The other diagonal connects the impression of the face of Christ on the handkerchief of Veronica lower left with the good murderer above right. He is menaced by a mean charlatan or Pharisee and an evil-natured monk. With this last one, Bosch alludes to the religious fanaticism of his time. The grotesque heads hearken to the masks that were used during Passion Plays, but also to the caricatures of Leonardo da Vinci. The soft, modeled face of Christ, expresses on the contrary a profound serenity. He is the Suffering One, who, abandoned by all, triumphs over the evil of the world. The presentation fits perfectly with the ideas of the lay brotherhoods, to which Bosch also belonged.