The Infant Christ Bearing the Instruments of the Passion

Spanish or South American16th-17th century

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Christ child is shown here carrying the cross and other instruments of the Passion, illustrating His sacrifice as a burden carried from birth. The artist based the painting on a widely circulated print by the Flemish artist, Hieronymus Wierix (1553-1619). The print shows implements in the basket which have here been hidden, including the hammer and tongs which secured and removed the nails onto the crucifix, leaving visible only the dice used to gamble over Christ’s garments. The original ‘thorny’ path and rocky landscape have also been replaced by a flower-strewn floor and dark backdrop, resulting in a more approachable representation intended as a gentle introduction to the Passion, perhaps for a child or nun.

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  • Title: The Infant Christ Bearing the Instruments of the Passion
  • Date: 16th-17th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w111 x h149 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: Possibly Southern German – very enamel-like.
  • Work Nationality: Spanish
  • Support: Copper
  • School: Spanish or South American
  • Provenance: London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: Based upon the widely disseminated engraving by Hieronymus Wierix (c.1553-1619) this painting on copper was originally thought to be German. Recent scholarship, however, has suggested that it is South American.
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)