Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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The Large Bearing of the Cross
  • Martin Schongauer
    born: Colmar, Holy Roman Empire (present-day France) ; died: Breisach am Rhein, Holy Roman Empire (present-day Germany)
  • The Large Bearing of the Cross, circa 1470
  • Where object was made: Germany
  • engraving
  • Lent by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Not on display
  • EL2012.023
  • Loan: Not in the Spencer's collection
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy," Sep-2012, Sally Cornelison and Susan Earle
The scion of a family of metalworkers, Martin Schongauer constructed his engravings from florid, confident lines cut deeply into copper plates. The depth of his incised imagery allowed him to produce prints in unprecedented numbers, and his works, this one included, circulated widely throughout Europe. Schongauer looked to older Netherlandish and German pictorial traditions and, in turn, his work became part of the artistic lineage of later artists such as Albrecht Dürer. The Large Bearing of the Cross incorporates several micro-narratives that orbit around the fallen figure of Christ, who gazes directly out at the viewer. In the craggy landscape of the center middle ground, the Virgin swoons with grief, attended by John the Evangelist, and the three Maries. This composition, characterized by a dense array of dramatically gesturing figures dressed in fantastic costumes, appealed to Vasari and his contemporaries, whose Italian mannerist style incorporated similar levels of drama and complexity.