Jheronimus Bosch ca. 1450 – 1516

The Carrying of the Cross (Ghent)

oil on panel (77 × 84 cm) — ca. 1510 Museum Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent

Jheronimus Bosch biography

This work is linked to John 19:17

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A curious painting with an extraordinary composition for its day and age. The figures are jammed into a small space, leaving almost no room between them. All faces are caricatures except for two: the face of Jesus bearing the cross, and that of Veronica. She holds a towel with an imprint of the face that she has just dried.

Also shown are the two murderers who were to be crucified together with Jesus. One is in the bottom right corner. The other is the man with the gray face in the top right corner. He repented when he heard Jesus praying on the cross; that's why his face is not as twisted as his colleague's.

The caricatures are considered by some experts to be references to the many religious fanatics in Bosch's times.

Some say Bosch did not make this work himself. In addition, it is not entirely certain when the painting was made. The "Bosch Research and Conservation Project" (2015) states that the faces are too grotesque compared to other Bosch work, and that the underpainting is different. The museum in Ghent still attributes the work to the master. It is nevertheless often seen as the best example of Bosch's hallucinatory style.

He made at least two more paintings on the same subject: one is in Madrid, the other in Vienna.

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