UNKNOWN MASTER, German
(active 1510s in Lower Bavaria)

St Christopher Carrying Christ

1510s
Limewood, 144 x 50 x 37 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

According to legend, St Christopher devoted his life to carrying the weak and poor across a river. One night, when he was carrying a child, he felt his burden grow heavier with each step. When questioned, the child declared that he was Christ and that Christopher was thus bearing the weight of the world. The widespread cult of Saint Christopher stemmed largely from the belief that gazing on his image would protect the faithful from storms and other threats in their travels.

Although not fully carved in the round, this figure was probably intended as an independent work to be placed on a console or against a pier. It is executed in a highly expressive and animated style, with the saint looking intensely at his youthful burden, while his hands rest on his hip for support. The drapery sweeps around the figure, mirroring the water swirling around his feet, suggesting the integral relationship between man and nature.




© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.