The Way to Calvary

This is one of three preparatory oil sketches for Polidoro's most important Sicilian commission, a monumental altarpiece of the same subject painted for the church of the Catalan brotherhood in Messina. The altarpiece was completed before 1534. It was carried aloft in a street procession, forming part of a moving Passion play, and was revered by the islanders as a kind of miraculous relic.

It is painted in a wild, expressive and original style, and is one of the earliest examples of an oil sketch in existence.

Key facts

Artist dates
about 1499 - 1543
Full title
The Way to Calvary
Date made
before 1534
Medium and support
Oil on walnut
75.3 x 59.3 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought with a grant from the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and donations from the George Beaumont Group, 2003
Inventory number
Location in Gallery