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Italian, Venetian, Christ carrying the Cross

Key facts
Full title Christ carrying the Cross
Artist Italian, Venetian
Date made about 1500
Medium and support Oil on wood (probably poplar)
Dimensions 36.4 × 29.9 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Angus Neill, 2015
Inventory number NG6655
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ carrying the Cross
Italian, Venetian

Christ, dressed in white, bears the Cross on his shoulder in this small devotional picture. The crown of thorns circles his head, its spikes pressing deep into his flesh. His eyes are reddened with weeping, the tears on his cheeks echoing the drops of blood on his forehead. This was undoubtedly an image for private contemplation: it was meant to be seen close up, and the artist has used all the means at his disposal to arouse feelings of pity and compassion in the viewer.

The subject of Christ carrying the Cross had an extraordinary success in Northern Italian painting in the late fifteenth century. It was derived from Netherlandish art and was linked to the rise of the Devotio Moderna (‘Modern Devotion’) movement in the Netherlands, which emphasised the need for medieval Christians to meditate upon Christ’s suffering.

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