The panel ‘Christ Bearing the Cross’ has already undergone several years of restoration. As one side of what is now known as the Taubischofsheim Altarpiece, it was painted by Mathis Neithart Gothart (called Grünewald) around 1523/25. It will take several more years to remove from the large panel painting the stubborn layer of grime and the overpainting of previous misguided restoration attempts. The original bright colours have resurfaced, presenting a whole new aspect to Grünewald’s late Passion painting, a masterpiece of German art.
No other work in the collection compels the viewer as stirringly to empathise with the Passion of Christ as the two sides of Matthias Grünewald's(1475/80-1528) Tauberbischofsheim Altar. He created this, his last monumental work, around 1523/24. The late medieval postulates of "compassio" and "imitatio" are at the foundation of this work. On the one hand, it stands in the tradition of 13th and 14th century mystic piety, while on the other hand marking an epochal transformation in representational means, a climax of German art after 1500.
One of the stations of the cross is depicted beneath the biblical saying from Isaiah 53,5 - "er ist vmb unser sund willen gesclagen" ("he was wounded for our transgressions") - on what was once the back side of the later divided panel. Under the tremendous burden of the wooden cross, the enfeebled Christ has collapsed. His tortured gaze looks to the heavens, while tormentors attack his stumbling figure with bludgeons and rods, driving him through the city gates to the place of execution.