BOSCH, Hieronymus
(b. ca. 1450, 's-Hertogenbosch, d. 1516, 's-Hertogenbosch)

St Christopher

Oil on panel, 113 x 72 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

In this painting St Christopher appears in a landscape charged with evil. His red cloak bunched up behind him, the giant Christopher staggers across the river, with the Christ Child on his back. According to legend, Christopher had served a king and the Devil himself in a search for a powerful and worthy master, a search which ended only when a hermit converted him to Christianity. The hermit stands at the edge of the water at lower right, but his treehouse has been transformed into a broken jug which houses a devilish tavern; above, a naked figure scrambles up a branch towards a beehive, a symbol of drunkenness. Across the river, a dragon emerges from a ruin, frightening a swimmer, while a town blazes in the shadowy distance. These and other sinister details recall the landscape on the exterior of the Haywain triptych, but unlike the Haywain pilgrim, Christopher is well protected by the passenger he bears.