(b. ca. 1450, 's-Hertogenbosch, d. 1516, 's-Hertogenbosch)
Christ Carrying the Cross1515-16
Oil on panel, 74 x 81 cm
Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent
Christ Carrying the Cross is an exceptionally dramatic painting, with a bold composition made up of closely packed heads for which no parallel exists in the art of the period around 1500. It is generally considered to be a late work and one of Bosch's greatest creations. The antithesis between good and evil, which was so crucial to Christian belief in Bosch's time, is raised to a climax. The painting is a peerless study of human facial expressions and demonic visages. Yet the chaotic and caricatured elements are never overwhelming and the painting seems to observe a complex balance of parallels and contrasts that emphasizes the serenity of Christ's gently modelled face in the centre. Amid all the tumult, we make out the clear profile of St Veronica withdrawing from the mob, the image of Christ's face - the 'vera icon' on her cloth.