In an extensive landscape dotted with extraordinary scenes, the heathen giant Reprobus carries a child across a river. During the crossing the child becomes unbearably heavy. It is Jesus, who bears the weight of the sins of the world. He baptises the giant Christopher (Christ carrier) who becomes the patron saint of travellers.


  • Title: Saint Christopher
  • Creator Lifespan: circa 1450 - 1516
  • Creator Nationality: Dutch
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Den Bosch, the Netherlands
  • Creator Birth Place: Den Bosch, the Netherlands
  • Date Created: 1490 - 1505
  • Physical Dimensions: w715 x h1130 cm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Jheronimus Bosch
  • Original Title: De heilige Christophorus
  • Artist Information: Jheronimus Bosch was probably born around 1450 in Den Bosch as Jheronimus van Aken. When his fame as artist had spread throughout Europe, he adopted the name of the city where he lived and worked. Jeroen Bosch was an innovator of the middle ages image tradition. His works are satirical, but also witty and moving. Around twenty-five works are currently known as Bosch originals in museums throughout the world. Several works are triptychs or sections of these. Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum owns four paintings by him.
  • Additional Artwork Information: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is the only museum in the Netherlands with a collection of paintings by Jheronimus Bosch. It also has several of his drawings, including The Nest of Owls, one of the most beautiful of all. Bosch was a celebrated artist in his own day, with works in the collections of aristocrats and high-ranking dignitaries. The Archduchess Maria of Austria possessed a painting by him, and in 1504 Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, ordered a triptych of The Last Judgment. Bosch was born in about 1450 in ’s-Hertogenbosch, where he lived and worked all his life. He came from a family of painters. Not only his father, who was presumably his teacher, but also his brother, a cousin and several uncles worked in the family studio in the market square of ’s-Hertogenbosch. One of his important clients was the Confraternity of Our Lady. Bosch made several works for the redecoration of their chapel in Saint John’s Cathedral. He also advised the brothers regarding assignments to other artists and craftsmen, and was sometimes called upon to appraise the work they submitted. Even during Bosch’s lifetime, artists were copying his work. They imitated his style and some sold their paintings under his name. Soon after his death, collectors were warned about the many forgeries in circulation. Worldwide, no more than about twenty-five panels are accepted as authentic. The museum’s Wedding at Cana was long accepted as a genuine Bosch, until a study of the annual growth rings in the panel revealed that the wood could only have been harvested in 1544—twenty-eight years after Bosch’s death. The painting is probably a copy after a lost original by the master. However beautiful Bosch’s fanciful paintings may be, art historians are still often uncertain as to what they mean. Many of them, like the painting of Saint Christopher, depict bizarre worlds and creatures. Fish with legs, along with demons and monsters are recurrent motifs in Bosch´s oeuvre. On more than one occasion, Bosch is known to have drawn inspiration from contemporary sources like the popular Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant. The iniquity of humankind is a central theme in many of his works. The famous Pedlar is a case in point. Though opinions differ, it is generally believed to represent man’s journey through life. The pedlar in the painting is interpreted as Man, weighed down by the burden of sin on his back, endeavouring to live his life without succumbing to earthly temptation. Temptation is represented here by the brothel in the background.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Lent by Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen 1940, http://collectie.boijmans.nl/en/disclaimer/
  • External Link: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • Medium: Oil on panel

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