Monday, March 14, 2016

Stations of the Cross: The Second Station, Jesus Carries the Cross

Jesus Carries the Cross
From Pèlerinage de Jésus-Christ by Guillaume de Digulleville 
French (Rennes), 1425-1450
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 376, fol. 217v
“So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.”  
John 19:16-18

The Second Station of the Cross picks up from the first, the Condemnation of Jesus.  After Pilate gave his judgment “they took Jesus”, laid the cross upon Him and began the death march to the place of execution, outside the walls of Jerusalem.   John is the only one of the four evangelists to tell us about the beginning of this procession of the condemned men , that is Jesus and the two thieves, from the administrative building at which Pilate had condemned Him to Golgotha, what we call Calvary.  And he doesn’t tell us much more than that Jesus began by carrying the cross himself.    Other evangelists tell us about things that happened along the way, as we will see in future essays.

Jesus Carries the Cross
 Ivory panels from a casket
Late Roman. 420-430
London, British Museum
One of the earliest images of Jesus carrying the cross comes from the fifth century.  It is one of several scenes from an ivory casket now in the British Museum and shows Jesus leaving the judgment seat of Pilate, carrying the cross and walking toward Peter, who is crouched before a small fire, with the maid servant who is accusing him of being a disciple and a crowing rooster.  Thus it conflates several different portions of the Gospel narratives into one compact image.

Later images focused more narrowly on the actual carrying of the cross.  Jesus is usually with one or two onlookers, often soldiers. 
Capital, Jesus Carries the Cross
French, 1101-1200
Issoire, Church of Saint Austremoine
Capital, Jesus Carries the Cross
French, 1151-1200
Saint-Nectaire, Church of  Saint-Nectaire




















Jesus Carries the Cross
From Picture Bible
French (St. Omer, Benedictine Abbey of St. Bertin), c. 1190-1200
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 76 F 5, fol. 20v
Jesus Carries the Cross
From Livre di'images de Madame Marie
Belgium (Hainaut), c.1285-1290
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquistion francaise 16251, fol.37v
























Then, beginning at the dawn of the Renaissance, in the fourteenth century, the number of other figures begins to increase in some images, though not in all.

Giotto, Jesus Carries the Cross
Italian, 1304-1306
Padua, Arena Chapel


Simone Martini, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Italian, 1333
Paris, Musee du Louvre
Jesus Carries the Cross
From Psalter
English (Salisbury), 1350-1375
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 765, fol. 13



























Jean le Noir, Jesus Carries the Cross
From Petites Heures de Jean de Berry
French (Paris), c. 1375
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 18014, fol. 86v
Boucicaut Master, Jesus Carries the Cross
From Heures de Jeanne Bessonnelle
French (Paris), 1400-1425
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1161, fol. 168





















Anonymous, Jesus Carries the Cross
German, c. 1400
Berghofen, Saints. Peter and Paul



Anonymous, Jesus Carries the Cross
German, 1451-1500
Lieberhausen, Evangelical Church
 (was St. Severin Catholic Church before the
Reformation) 






















Hieronymous Bosch, Jesus Carries the Cross
Dutch, 1480s
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

 This becomes a veritable “cast of thousands” in the immensely detailed painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder now in Vienna.  Here the actual scene of Jesus carrying the cross is relegated to the middle distance and is seen as taking place in a crowded and basically uncaring, even unconscious world.
Pieter Brueghel Elder, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Flemish, 1564
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Louis de Caulery, Jesus Carries the Cross
French, 1590-1625
Rouen, Musee des Beaux-Arts




























Jan van Orley, Jesus Carries the Cross (tapestry)
Flemish, c. 1750
Bruges, Church of Sankt Salvator

From about the beginning of the sixteenth century an alternate image type began to appear.  This was less a narrative than an imtimate devotional image, meant to inspire contemplation in the viewer.  It confronts us with a “close up” image of Jesus alone, bearing the cross and showing in His face the impact of His sufferings and a calm acceptance of them. 
Hieronymous Bosch, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Dutch, 1515-1516
Ghent , Museum vor Schone Kunsten
Jan Gossart, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Flemish, c.1520-1525
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art


Vincenzo Catena, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Italian, 1520s
Vienna, Liechenstein Museum

Girolamo Marchesi da Cotignola, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Italian, 1520-1526
Avignon, Musee du Petit Palais


Jan van Scorel & Studio
Jesus Carrying the Cross
Dutch, c.1535
Utrecht, Museum Catharijnconvent



Jan van Hemessen, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Flemish, 1553
Esztergom, Christian Museum



























Michiel Coxie, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Flemish, c.1555
Madrid, Museo del Prado

El Greco, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Greco-Spanish, 1577-1587
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Robert Lehman Collection



























Luca Giordano, Jesus Carrying the Cross
Italian, c.1697
Madrid, Museo del Prado
However, the narrative painting never lost its power and continued on into the modern era.

James Tissot, Jesus Carries the Cross
From The Life of Christ series
French, 1886-1894
New York, Brooklyn Museum


Eric Gill, Jesus Receives His Cross
From Stations of the Cross
English, 1913-1918
London, Westminster Cathedral

© M. Duffy, 2016

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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