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Workshop of the Master of the Female Half-Lengths, Saint Christopher carrying the Infant Christ

Key facts
Full title Saint Christopher carrying the Infant Christ
Artist Workshop of the Master of the Female Half-Lengths
Artist dates active second quarter of the 16th century
Date made possibly about 1540
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 24.5 × 53.7 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG716
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint Christopher carrying the Infant Christ
Workshop of the Master of the Female Half-Lengths

According to legend, Saint Christopher was a giant, who was given the task of helping travellers across a river after he converted to Christianity. One day a child asked to be carried across, but Saint Christopher found him so heavy that he was bowed down with the weight. The child revealed that he was Christ and that Christopher carried the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Here, Christ has a faint halo of yellow light. It’s clearly a blustery day: the mantles of both figures blow in the wind. The man on the right with the long grey beard must be the hermit who instructed Saint Christopher in the Christian faith. The building behind him, a bell on its roof, might be his hermitage.

The style and technique of this painting are close enough to that of Saint John on Patmos, also in the National Gallery’s collection, to justify an attribution to the same workshop, although not to the same artist.

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