BLES, Herri met de
(b. ca. 1510, Bouvignes (Dinant), d. after 1550)

Road to Calvary

c. 1535
Oil on panel, 82 x 114 cm
University Art Museum, Princeton

Herri met de Bles was a significant contributor to the tradition of landscape painting. One of his largest landscapes appears as the setting for the Road to Calvary, now in Princeton. The subject is immersed within a spectacular landscape. The foreground procession of people who stream from the giant turreted gate of Jerusalem is minuscule, and within the city walls the artist scatters more tiny figures, who act out the various episodes of the Passion.

In contrast to the procedure of the early landscapists, met de Bles's procedure was first to sketch the layout of the landscape omitting figures entirely, to assure a unity and totality to the view. The figures were added later. In this painting, like in his other landscapes, the painter thought in terms of a landscape with figures and not figures in a landscape.