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Christ carrying the Cross
Probably by Lo Spagna

The generous loan of this picture to the National Gallery re-unites it with its pair, 'Christ at Gethsemene', for the first time in over a century. They were probably made as the painted wings of a small portable altarpiece. Its different surface colour is explained by the fact that, unlike its pair, this uncleaned picture still has a now yellowed 19th-century varnish.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Lo Spagna
Artist dates active 1504; died 1528
Full title Christ carrying the Cross
Series Scenes from the Passion of Christ
Date made perhaps 1500-5
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 34.5 x 25.5 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from a private collection
Inventory number L985
Location in Gallery Room 61
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Scenes from the Passion of Christ

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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. They were presumably painted by members of his artistic circle, though it is not absolutely certain they are both by the same artist. They are very different colours, as the panel of Christ carrying the Cross has a now yellowed nineteenth-century varnish.

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