Bernardino Luini - inv. 1624

Bernardino Luini (c. 1480-1532)

The Way to Calvary (diptych)
50,6 x 40,7 cm; 50,4 x 40 cm
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1624

Lombard Rooms
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   Behind the Virgin, with her hands crossed on her chest and her eyes full of tears, the weeping face of Mary Magdalene can be seen. In the right panel Christ, with the crown of thorns, rope around his neck and red cloth enveloping his body, is carrying the cross and clearly shows on his body the wounds inflicted on him during the Flagellation. Behind the Saviour, one of his executioners seems to be pushing his weeping mother away with an outstretched arm.

Restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, the two panels are in good condition today. The raised border of the paint surface along the edges of both works indicate that they were painted when they were already in the original frame of the diptych, today missing.

The theme of the Way to the Calvary depicted in two separate scenes of the mourning Virgin and Christ carrying the cross was tackled by Luini on various occasions. It might have originated with Flemish models, especially in the circles of Rogier van der Weyden or Dirck Bouts. However, the element of Christ flanked by his torturer might have derived from a Christ Carrying the Cross by Leonardo (c. 1500), for which a preparatory drawing is in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

Datable to the 1520s, the painting belongs to Luini’s mature style and is characterised by delicate colour harmonies and soft brushwork.