“Carrying the Cross”, Sebastiano del Piombo – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Carrying the Cross – Sebastiano del Piombo. 1537. Aspid board, oil. 104.5 x 74.5 cm.

A feature of this picture is the use of extraordinary material – the so-called aspid board. This is a natural material, black or slate-colored slate. The use of slate made it possible to create a painting with a unique structure of the paint layer. It is distributed on the stone differently than on the canvas, so the image seems more delicate, as if captured in diffused light.

The picture refers to the late works of the artist, when he was fond of gloomy biblical subjects. “Carrying the Cross” is an image of Jesus Christ during his long journey to Calvary. The Romans forced him to carry the instrument of his own execution – a cross made of solid wood.

The image captured Jesus tired, exhausted, anticipating imminent death. Suffering is written on his face, and a massive cross seems to press him to the ground with his weight. But the picture cannot be denied grace. For all the tragedy of the plot, the artist’s true love for his work is felt. It is reflected in the elegant lines of the drapery of the light tunic of Christ, in the beautiful golden tree of the cross, even in how accurately and accurately the crown of thorns is written on the head of Jesus. Particularly impressive is the graceful hand holding the cross. She, like her face, is highlighted with golden light, so it seems especially voluminous and comes to the fore. If we recall that according to the Bible Christ was a carpenter, it becomes clear that the master clearly reveled in the beauty of the human body and the grace of movement.

The color scheme of the paintings of the late period of the artist’s work is restrained, with a predominance of golden, gray and brown colors. There is no background as such – all the viewer’s attention is focused on the figure of Christ, and everything else seems to be drowning in darkness."

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