Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary
  • Italy
    Raphael
    1483–1520
    born: Urbino, Papal States (present-day Italy) ; died: Rome, Papal States (present-day Italy) ; active: Italy
  • Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary, late 1500s–early 1600s
  • Where object was made: Italy
  • reverse painting on glass
  • Gift of the Paul Ward Family
  • On view: Stewart Gallery, 406, W5
  • 1993.0037
Label Text
Literature
Exhibitions

Mobile App Exhibition Label:
"The Object Speaks", 15-Oct-2016
“Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary” is a famous altarpiece Raphael painted for the Sicilian church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo from 1517–1520 (known in Italian as “Lo Spasimo di Sicilia,” literally the “Spasm of Sicily”). The composition proved so influential that artists reproduced it in many formats, including tapestries, maiolica, marble, paintings, prints, and this reverse painting on glass. The "spasm" in question is Mary’s anguished physical reaction, or swoon, at the sight of her suffering son.


Exhibition Label:
"Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy," Sep-2012, Sally Cornelison and Susan Earle
This is one of many works made in a variety of media, including tapestry, maiolica, marble, painting, and drawing, to reproduce Lo Spasimo di Sicilia (1517-20) - literally the “Spasm of Sicily”- a famous altarpiece Raphael painted for the church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo. The spasimo in question is the Virgin Mary’s anguished physical reaction, or swoon, at the sight of her suffering son. In his Life of Raphael, Vasari recounted that the painting, which is pictured below, had achieved cult status because it was the only entity to survive when the ship transporting it to Sicily was destroyed during a storm at sea. An example of reverse painting on glass, this image was painted on the back of a clear glass panel. Glass painters typically added the details and shading before finishing with the larger areas of color. It is viewed from the opposite side, which reverses the composition of the original.