(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Christ Falls on the Way to Calvary

Oil on panel transferred to canvas, 318 x 229 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The painting was executed for the Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo, partly by the school of Raphael. (It is called Lo Spasimo di Sicilia.) The church was dedicated to the grief and agony ('spasimo') of the Virgin when she witnessed the sufferings of Christ, and the true subject of Raphael's altarpiece is indeed the mutual gaze of Christ, stumbling beneath the weight of the Cross, and his distraught mother, who reaches out her arms in vain.

When the painting was being transported by sea to Sicily, it is supposed to have gone down with the ship, and to have drifted into the port of Genoa. Monks found it there and thought its appearance a miracle.

Philip IV, King of Spain bought the painting in 1622. In 1813 Napoleon took it as booty to Paris, where it was moved to canvas. In 1822 the painting was given back to Spain.