Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stations of the Cross: Jesus Falls -- The Third, Seventh and Ninth Stations

Guiseppe Bazzani, Jesus Falls
Italian, c.1750
Paris, Musee du Louvre
No passage in the Gospels tells us much about the physical effort it took for Jesus to carry the cross from Pilate’s judgment seat to the hill of Calvary outside the walls of Jerusalem.  The sole indication we have is the reference in the three Synoptic Gospels to a bystander who was forced to help Him carry it, as we shall see shortly. 1

However, it is certainly not surprising that a man who had been taken prisoner the night before, subjected to hostile questioning and to a brutal beatings and torture would be in a much weakened state and, consequently, subject to falling under the heavy weight of a substantial piece of wood.  This would be true whether the cross was a full sized complete cross (which would probably have stood about nine feet high) or even just a cross beam, which could have been affixed as needed to uprights that were permanent fixtures of the place of execution. 

Master of Claude de France, Jesus Falls
From Prayer Book of Claude de France
French (Tours), 1515-1520
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M1166, fol. 12v





I stand about 5 feet, 4 inches tall and I have measured the full extension of my arms.  It is approximately the same as my height, a crossbeam to which a body my size should be affixed would have to be at least 6 feet long.  So, presuming that He stood a bit taller than I am, for Jesus you will need to think of a crossbeam measuring 7 feet at a minimum.  Therefore, whether we are imagining a full cross or even just a crossbeam, we are talking about very large pieces of wood being carried by a person who had been allowed no sleep, probably no food or water and had also probably lost a considerable amount of blood before setting out.  Small wonder that He should fall and need to be helped!

Tradition, preserved in the Stations of the Cross, suggests that He fell at least three times, giving us the three stations that have basically the same name.  In the images of the road to Calvary that have been produced by artists over the centuries, it is virtually impossible to tell the falls apart, though in some there are subtle hints, as we shall see. 


Eric Gill. Jesus Falls the First Time
English, 1913-1918
London, Westminster Cathedral


Eric Gill. Jesus Falls the Second Time
English, 1913-1918
London, Westminster Cathedral


Eric Gill. Jesus Falls the Third Time
English, 1913-1918
London, Westminster Cathedral

Jesus Falls
From Book of Hours
French (Langres), 1480-1495
 New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M26, fol. 112v
The pictures that show Jesus fallen, with no one to help Him, could be seen as images of the First Fall, the Third Station.

Quinten Massijs, Jesus Falls
Flemish, c. 1510-1515
Maastricht, Bonnefantenmsuseum





















Matthias Grunewald, Jesus Falls
German, 1523-1524
Karlsruhe, Kunsthalle
Bernard van Orley, Jesus Falls
Flemish, 1534
Bruges, Church of Our Lady


Joachim Beuckelaer, Jesus Falls
Flemish, 1562
Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art

Francesco Bassano, Jesus Falls
Italian, 1572
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Pieter de Jode after Maarten de Vos, Jesus Falls,
From Thesaurus Novi Testamenti elegantissimus
iconibus expressus continens historias atque
miracula domini nostri Jesu Christi

Flemish, c.1580
London, British Museum
Lubin Baugin, Jesus Falls
French, 1640-1663
Orleans, Musee des Beaux-Arts























Paolo Naldini, Jesus Falls
Italian, 1651-1700
Rome, Church of San Marcello al Corso

Charles LeBrun, Jesus Falls
French, 1688
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Jesus Falls
Italian, 1737-1738
Venice, Church of Sant'Alvise

Giandomenico Tiepolo, Christ Falls
Italian, 1772
Madris, Museo del Prado

Those that show Him fallen, with someone helping to raise the cross from His body so that He can rise again, can be seen as images of the Second Fall, the Seventh Station.  In them we can see Simon the Cyrenian, who had been pressed into service to assist Him.  We may also see the presence of Mary and other women and the Apostle John, who met Him in the Fourth Station and follow Him.
Guillaume Hugueniot, Jesus Falls
From Hours of Pierre de Bosredont
French, (Langres), 1460-1470
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS G55, fol. 14r

Master Francois and Collababorators, Jesus Falls
From Speculum historiale by Vincentius Bellovacensis
Franch (Paris), 1463
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 50, fol. 231v





















Veronese, Jesus Falls
Italian, 1550-1600
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Titian, Fallen Jesus
Italian, c.1560
Madrid, Museo del Prado

Paris Nogari, Jesus Falls
Italian, 1585-1590
Rome, Madonna dei Monti


Juan de Valdes Leal, Fallen Jesus on the Way to Calvary
Spanish, c.1661
Madrid, Museo del Prado




















Pierre Mignard, Jesus Falls
French, 1687
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Nicolas de Largilliere, Jesus Falls
French, 1710-20
Paris, Musee du Louvre

In the images that show Jesus much weakened, falling yet again, with the presence of Simon, Mary and others and especially of Veronica, the woman who wiped His face, and who was introduced in the Eighth Station, obviously represent the Ninth Station, the Third and final Fall.
Anonymous, Jesus Falls and Jesus Is Stripped of His Garments
German, 15th Century
Paris, Musee du Louvre
In this image Jesus is also shown being Stripped of His
Garments, which is the subject of the Tenth Station

Jean Pichore, Jesus Falls
From Altar Card
French (Paris), 1510-1530
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M1147, fol. 1r


Master of the Expulsion of Hagar, Jesus Falls
Dutch, c.1510-1520
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Anonymous, Jesus Falls
French, 16th Century
Senlis_Musee d'Art et d'Archeologie






















Francesco Bassano II, Jesus Falls
Italian, c.1580
Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland

Salvatore Rosa, Jesus Falls
Italian, 1662-1673
Chantilly, Musee Conde

Anonymous, Jesus Falls
French, 1675-1700
Paris, Musee du Louvre

Anonymous, Jesus Falls
French, 1675-1700
Paris, Musee du Louvre

There are also a handful of images that cannot be identified as one fall or the other.  These again have the character of the devotional image, presented to our eyes so that we may become, as it were, a spectator as Jesus falls in front of us on His painful journey to Calvary.
Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Fallen Jesus
Spanish, ca. 1660
Cherbourg-Octeville, Musee Thomas Henry

Eugene Deveria, Fallen Jesus
French, 1846
Pau, Musee des Beaux-Arts

© M. Duffy, 2016
______________________________________________________________________________
1.        Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26. 

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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