Skip to main content

Ugolino di Nerio, The Way to Calvary

Key facts
Full title The Way to Calvary
Artist Ugolino di Nerio
Artist dates documented 1317-27; died possibly 1329
Series The Santa Croce Altarpiece
Date made possibly 1325-8
Medium and support Egg tempera on poplar
Dimensions 40.8 × 58.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1885
Inventory number NG1189
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Way to Calvary
Ugolino di Nerio

This panel was the central scene of the predella (the lowest part of the altarpiece below the main level) that Ugolino made for the church of Santa Croce in Florence. It shows Christ carrying the Cross to the site of his crucifixion as described in the Gospel of John (John 19: 17). His deep pink robe and the structure of the Cross anchor the scene.

Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary, is the other prominent figure. She is shown, as was traditional, wearing a blue robe. It was painted with ultramarine, an expensive pigment which is bright blue when fresh, but which has a tendency to darken over time, as it has here. The soldiers' helmets have also darkened over time – they were once silver. Mary is accompanied by two other women, probably the female followers of Christ mentioned in the Gospels, both also called Mary. One of them, Mary Magdalene, was traditionally shown wearing red.

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

The Santa Croce Altarpiece


These panels were once part of a large altarpiece which adorned the high altar of the church of Santa Croce in Florence. It focused on the Passion of Christ (his torture and crucifixion) and the Resurrection – an appropriate theme, as the church was dedicated to the Holy Cross.

Drawings made in the late eighteenth century show how it was arranged originally. There were four tiers of images: the main tier had a central image of the Virgin and Child flanked by images of the saints within arches, which were decorated with angels (there are two sets of these in the National Gallery’s collection).

Above was a row of saints framed in pairs; we hold two pairs. The uppermost tier consisted of six pinnacle panels, three on either side of a central image which probably showed the Crucifixion, itself topped by an image of Christ making a blessing gesture. The predella (the lowest layer) consisted of seven scenes showing Christ’s suffering and death; we have four of these.