Image / The Road to Calvary

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The Road to Calvary
Peter Paul Rubens--Flanders, 1577-1640
Date Created and/or Issued
circa 1632
Publication Information
Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
Contributing Institution
UC Berkeley, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Art Collection Highlights - Images and Ideas: The Collection in Focus at the Berkeley Art Museum, University of California
Rights Information
Please contact the contributing institution for more information regarding the copyright status of this object.
The traditional subject of Christ carrying the cross to the hill of Calvary here combines the emotional pathos of the exhausted Christ with the heroic dynamism of a triumphal procession.
The gray and brown tones of this ornately theatrical work would ordinarily suggest that it was a grisaille preparatory study. In such a study, Rubens quickly brushed in his first ideas in brown tones with white highlights. His studio assistants then transferred these sketches to the full-scale decorative programs.
The Berkeley grisaille, however, shows a level of detail usually found only in Rubens's completed altarpieces. It seems that Rubens, working alone, executed the grisaille for the use of an engraver, who then copied the composition onto a metal plate for printing. The Road to Calvary thus lets us see the artist's hand at work on an intimate scale, full of painterly vitality in expression and movement.
Oil and emulsion paint on wood

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