Flemish walnut group depicting Christ carrying the Cross

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Circa 1500
64 cm
52 cm
16.5 cm

23rd "Oude Kunst- en Antiekbeurs Delft", The Netherlands, 1971, p. 165


Exh.: Paleis Raadhuis, Tilburg, The Netherlands in 1948; Ecclesiastical Art 's Bosch, 1920


Collection Mgr. Prof. Dr. Th. J.A.J. Goosens
Peters Oude kunst Tilburg, The Netherlands 1971 -

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This expressively carved walnut sculpture depicts the bearing of the cross. In the center of the scene, Christ is depicted collapsing under the burden of the cross, which is leaning forward. He wears the crown of thorns and is pulled by his hair by the soldier standing before him. Behind him, Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross. The bent over Christ is being beaten by the soldier behind him; in the raised hand was originally a scourge. Behind this soldier is a weeping and praying Mary. On the right are depicted the two criminals, Dismas and Gestas, who were crucified at the same time as Christ. They are tied up and led by a soldier. The movement of the figures and the detailed rendering of the clothing, folds and expressions make this a remarkable sculpture.

The sculpture, made around 1500, was part of a retable. Retables are figurative painting and sculpture representations that, in the Roman Catholic Church, are set up against the wall behind the altar or on top of the altar. The word retable comes from the Latin retro tabula (back, plate). Often retables consist of multiple panels and a combination of sculpture and painting.  

This Carrying of the Cross comes from a retable manufactured in Brussels. In the course of the fifteenth century, the major cities of Brabant, Antwerp, Mechelen, and Brussels, developed into centers of retable production. There was a certain standardization of the themes depicted on the retables, especially the Marian retable and the Passion retable were widely produced.    


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