(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)

Christ Carrying the Cross

Oil on canvas, 108 x 78 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

El Greco treated the theme many times in Spain, there are seven closely related versions of this successful composition for private meditation. The earliest dates from soon after the Espolio, to which it is essentially related. The subject of the Espolio is not repeated, but the Christ becomes the prototype for the Christ Carrying the Cross. This is a signed, late version.

The reason for the popularity of El Greco's devotional paintings is obvious. Not only are they brilliantly rendered; they also capture the piety and emotion of Counter-Reformation spirituality and provided a stimulus for prayer and devotion.