Bernardino Luini - inv. 1625

Bernardino Luini (c. 1480-1532)

Raising the Cross
72,3 x 58,5 cm
1895 acquisition 
Inv. 1625

Lombard Rooms
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The panel shows the cross with Christ crucified being raised on Golgotha. A commander wearing armour directs soldiers, behind Christ, to help two men raise the cross, which bears the inscription on high: “I. N. R. I.”   (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, or Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). The Virgin, kneeling on the ground, is supported by Saint John and by a woman accompanying her. In the dark sky the sun, to the right of Christ, and the moon, to his left, symbolise the Old and New Testaments.

Perhaps part of an unknown series of panels dedicated to the Life or to the Passion of Christ, the painting is in bad condition. Restored in 1974, it has been damaged by numerous abrasions, gaps and retouchings that make any clear reading difficult.

Despite the damaged picture surface, the precision of some of the details, such as the armour, Saint John’s garments and the executioner’s facial features as he raises the cross in the foreground, confirm the hand of Bernardino Luini.

The close stylistic affinity with the frescoes in the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Saronno and with the Crucifixion in the Hermitage in St Petersburg suggest a date in the years immediately preceding 1530.