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Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, The Procession to Calvary

Key facts
Full title The Procession to Calvary
Artist Ridolfo Ghirlandaio
Artist dates 1483 - 1561
Date made probably about 1505
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 166.4 × 161.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1883
Inventory number NG1143
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Procession to Calvary
Ridolfo Ghirlandaio

The pagan virgin Veronica took pity on Christ carrying the Cross and wiped his face with her veil, which became miraculously imprinted with his features. Saint Veronica kneels to receive the veil from Christ’s hand as he continues on his way. Although Christ is in profile, the image on the cloth is full face. The Virgin and Mary Magdalene follow Christ with Saint John the Evangelist. Simon of Cyrene helps to carry Christ’s cross.

This painting was made for the church of San Gallo in Florence, which was destroyed in 1529. The subject of Christ carrying the Cross was unusual for altarpieces at this date in Italy – the prominence of Veronica suggests that this altarpiece may have been painted for a chapel dedicated to her.

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