Jheronimus Bosch ca. 1450 – 1516

The Carrying of the Cross (Escorial)

oil on panel (150 × 94 cm) — ca. 1498 Museum Monastery of El Escorial, San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Jheronimus Bosch biography

This work is linked to John 19:17

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It is not entirely clear if Bosch painted The Carrying of the Cross himself. In line with other work from his studio is the angle at which the faces are held - the caricatures in profile, the rest turned halfway to the viewer.

Bosch made at least two more paintings on this subject: one is in Vienna, the other in Gent.

The man in white is Simon of Cyrene, who was ordered to help carrying the cross. Jesus was hindered not only by the weight of the cross, but also by blocks with nails that were tied to his feet.

To the right a soldier leads the way. Like Christ he looks us, with a look suggesting 'I may be the one doing this, but it could have been you just as well'. Perhaps that is the message of this painting.

The crescent on the soldier's blue gown is an anachronistic detail. Around 1500 many Europeans feared an invasion of Islamic armies.

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