ANDREA DI BARTOLO
(b. 1360/70, Siena, d. 1428, Siena)
Christ on the Road to Calvary1415-20
Tempera on wood, 55 x 49 cm
Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Pedralbes
The painting shows Christ on the road to Calvary bearing the cross on his back. Behind him, a figure who is probably Simon of Cyrene helps him to bear up the cross, while in front another figure pulls at a cord around his neck. Christ turns his head back towards his mother, the Virgin Mary, who helplessly holds out her arms towards her son. Behind her are the holy women, recognizable by their haloes.
The composition adheres very closely to a painting of the same subject by Simone Martini (now in the Louvre), which was at that period considered the model for portrayals of this episode.
Andrea di Bartolo remains faithful to the Trecento style of Sienese painting in the way he packs the figures closely together, and also in his gold background, architecture and landscape. Nonetheless, he manages to create a sense of spatial depth through the buildings and the landscape which opens out to the right. This depth is accentuated in the foreground by the placement of the legs of the figures on the realistically painted ground, which acts as a stage for the action.