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Boccaccio Boccaccino, Christ carrying the Cross and the Virgin Mary Swooning

Key facts
Full title Christ carrying the Cross and the Virgin Mary Swooning
Artist Boccaccio Boccaccino
Artist dates before 1466 - 1525
Date made about 1501
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 136.6 × 134.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1870
Inventory number NG806
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ carrying the Cross and the Virgin Mary Swooning
Boccaccio Boccaccino

This is thought to be one of Boccaccino’s earliest known works. It is an altarpiece painted for the choir screen of the church of S. Domenico in Cremona.

Christ carries the Cross escorted by three soldiers, two of whom are pulling the rope around his neck. The procession winds up the hill, on top of which two crosses have been erected. The two thieves who will be crucified beside Jesus walk ahead wearing only loincloths. Saint John, dressed in red, clasps his hands and looks down at the Virgin who has fainted and is surrounded by the three Marys, who were later to discover Christ’s empty tomb.

Saint John’s position in the centre of the altarpiece suggests he was the subject of special devotion by the person who commissioned it. The swooning (lo spasimo in Italian) of the Virgin is an episode shown in a number of sixteenth-century Italian paintings of Christ carrying the Cross, and this altar in S. Domenico was dedicated to the mystery.

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