Thursday, March 4, 2010

Christ Carrying the Cross

Title: Christ Carrying the Cross

Artist: Hieronymus Bosch

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 74 x 81 cm

Date: 1515-16

Location: Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent.

Mark 15:20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

“Christ Carrying the Cross” is an exceptionally dramatic painting, with a bold composition made up of closely packed heads for which no parallel exists in the art of the period around 1500. It is generally considered to be a late work and one of Bosch's greatest creations. The antithesis between good and evil, which was so crucial to Christian belief in Bosch's time, is raised to a climax. The painting is a peerless study of human facial expressions and demonic visages. Yet the chaotic and caricatured elements are never overwhelming and the painting seems to observe a complex balance of parallels and contrasts that emphasizes the serenity of Christ's gently modeled face in the centre. Amid all the tumult, we make out the clear profile of St Veronica withdrawing from the mob, the image of Christ's face - the 'vera icon' on her cloth.

Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 – buried August 9, 1516) was an early Netherlandish painter, named after the town of 's-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc) in northern Brabant, where he seems to have lived throughout his life. His real name was Jerome van Aken (perhaps indicating family origins in Aachen, Germany). Bosch married well and was successful in his career (although his town was fairly isolated, it was prosperous and culturally stimulating). He was an orthodox Catholic and a prominent member of a local religious brotherhood, but his most characteristic paintings are so bizarre that in the 17th century he was reputed to have been a heretic. Over the years, scholars have attributed to him fewer and fewer of the works once thought to be his, and today only 25 are definitively ascribed to him, but none is dated and no accurate chronology can be made.

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