Skip to main content

Lo Spagna, Christ carrying the Cross

Key facts
Full title Christ carrying the Cross
Artist Lo Spagna
Artist dates active 1504; died 1528
Series Scenes from the Passion of Christ
Date made perhaps 1500-5
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 33.8 × 24.4 cm
Acquisition credit Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax from the Estate of The Rt Hon the Countess of Sutherland and allocated to the National Gallery, 2022
Inventory number NG6693
Location Not on display
Image copyright Dunrobin Castle Collection
Collection Main Collection
Christ carrying the Cross
Lo Spagna

Christ Carrying the Cross is a painting dating from the beginning of Lo Spagna’s professional maturity as an artist. Bent under the weight of the large wooden cross, Christ looks towards the viewer as he makes his way along the road to Calvary. Behind him, a raised area of ground falls away to reveal a hilly Umbrian landscape. Lo Spagna has stripped away the usual narrative elements of the scene. Christ appears alone, as he journeys towards death.

In Christ Carrying the Cross Lo Spagna has placed the lone figure of Christ at the front of the picture plane to produce an iconic image, creating a direct and intimate connection with the viewer. Representations of Christ on the way to Calvary were very popular around1500 in Italy, where the influence of the Devotio moderna (‘Modern Devotion’) movement, which emphasised the need for medieval Christians to meditate on Christ’s suffering, spurred demand for cult images of the Passion.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo

Scenes from the Passion of Christ


These two small paintings probably once formed the wings of a portable altarpiece. They show different episodes from the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion). In one, Christ kneels in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before he is arrested (Matthew 26: 39–42. In the other, he carries the cross on the way to be crucified, as described in all four Gospels.

The sweet, light style of these pictures links them to Pietro Perugino, who in the early sixteenth century was the most admired and commercial artist in central Italy. They were painted by Lo Spagna who, after Raphael, was the most talented of Perugino’s associates. A nineteenth-century source suggest they were made for Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, who became Pope Leo X.