Sunday, April 8, 2012


This is Hieronymous Bosch's 16th Century painting of "Christ Carrying the Cross." He was not a very prolific artist, and this painting represents one of only 24 paintings he is known to have done. It stands today in the Voor Schone Museum in Ghent.

What I find most fascinating about the painting is that it almost resembles the Modernist, and even some aspects of the Cubic form, found in some contemporary artists, such as Picasso, and also Bermudez. The use of vibrant colors, along with distinct lines to the figures, help bring to life the story being told.

Examining the painting, along with a bit of reading, reveals the story of Saint Veronica, who carries the veil bearing the imprint of Christ's face on the way to his Crucifixion. She is a woman of faith, and as such, appears to be calm. The other figure is that of Simon of Cirene, who, under orders from the Romans, is helping to bear the burden of the cross. He is clearly distressed. The crowd surrounding them as they struggle with their burden, is a hostile one, and painted in an exaggerated fashion in order to emphasize the hostility of man towards that in which he has no faith. Their own lack of faith makes them part of the problems they all face. Yet, they lack the courage of the condemned man, and so they revile him.

The only peaceful face is that of Jesus, who knows his fate and accepts it. Indeed, he has no choice. Accompanying Christ are the two thieves, on their way to their own executions, both fearful of the fate which awaits them. Their courage is not lacking, only their faith in something better which may lie ahead to redeem them.

The religious theme aside, the message in this classic painting is one which still rings true today. We are all complicit in the ills of the world. There is a faith which is lacking in us all. And that lack of faith is not a faith in Christ, or Moses, nor is it in something material. It is, instead, a lack of faith in ourselves to tackle the problems facing us, which troubles us the most.

And, by the way, Sarah and I both wish you a Happy Passover, too!

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