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The Way to Calvary
Jacopo Bassano
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While carrying his cross, Christ stumbles and falls. One of Christ’s executioners raises a fist to strike him and another pulls him by a rope around his waist. In the distance is Calvary, the barren hill with two crosses where Christ will be crucified. The Virgin follows her son and wipes her tear-soaked cheek. Saint Veronica holds out her veil to Christ, on which the image of his face will become miraculously imprinted.

This painting may have been an altarpiece for a chapel dedicated to Saint Veronica. Her name is related to the Latin phrase vera ikon, which means ‘true image’. Veronica’s veil, the Sudarium, became a relic venerated as a true picture of Christ.

The composition was inspired by an engraving after Raphael (Prado, Madrid) and by a woodcut from the Small Passion by the German artist Dürer. A dense arrangement of figures expressing strong emotion is typical of Bassano’s mature works -– those made once he had fully developed his style and technique.

Key facts
Artist Jacopo Bassano
Artist dates active about 1535; died 1592
Full title The Way to Calvary
Date made about 1544-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 145.3 x 132.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with a contribution from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1984
Inventory number NG6490
Location in Gallery Room 9
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