Small Christ Carrying the Cross Hieronymus Bosch Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Small Christ Carrying the Cross is the interior of a double-sided oil on wood panel painting from circa 1502-1510

The oak panel stands at 57cm by 32cm with the exterior depicting Christ as a child, with a walking frame and whirligig. That is a tondo, a circular painting, with a reddish brown colour spread across the unused areas. On the interior Small Christ Carrying the Cross covers every centremetre of the panel, featuring a huge number of figurative portraits in this frenzy of action and emotion.

Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos also served as a decorative interior painting, with a simpler tondo on the exterior and this was a format that appealed to the ingenious, imaginative mind of Bosch as he developed his career and continued to receive critical acclaim.

The main composition, that featured in this page, features Christ dragging his cross whilst suffering unbearable pain from wooden boards nailed to his feet. The theme of suffering and appreciation to Christ are, of course, central to this entire religion as well as its many offshoots. The way in which Bosch makes Christ particularly small in relation to the cross in this painting increases the feeling of desperation and suffering.

Hieronymus Bosch produced several triptyches in his lifetime, and this fresco used to be the left hand panel of one of them. Artworks would often be reconsituted over time, sometimes large canvases would be cropped into smaller paintings. Sone believe that the workshop member who helped out in the Adoration of the Magi may also have contributed here, but that has never been confirmed.

Christ was captured on multiple occasions by Hieronymus Bosch, also featuring in Christ carrying the Cross, Passion of the Christ I and Passion of the Christ II. The powerful, symbolic artwork that we see in this page can now be found at the Palacio Real in Madrid, Spain. It is, therefore, one of the few original Bosch paintings to be found in that country.

The Royal Palace in Madrid also holds some other notable paintings. For example, you may also be interested to view all of the installed art, frescos painted onto the palace's walls and ceilings. These custom made artworks are stunning and took advantage of the finest artists of their eras. There was also a recent exhibition which collated work from the careers of Bernini and Caravaggio, alongside other stars of the Italian Renaissance.