A magnificent picture of Christ Carrying the Cross is a masterpiece of Girolamo Romanino’s fully mature style and among the most potent and moving depictions of the theme in 16th century Italian art. The painting will highlight Christie’s Old Master Paintings sale on June 6 in New York, and is estimated at $2,500,000-3,500,000.
Nicholas Hall, Co-Chairman, Old Masters & 19th Century Art, comments: “Christie’s is honored to be chosen to auction this rare work on behalf of the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe. Romanino’s “Christ Carrying the Cross” is a masterpiece of the Italian High Renaissance, which could hang in any major museum: a picture of this importance by the artist has not been available on the market for more than a decade.”
A leading painter of the north Italian school, Girolamo di Romano, who during his lifetime came to be called Romanino, was born between 1484 and 1487 in Brescia, then under Venetian rule. Active as a painter of frescoes, altarpieces, portraits and private devotional pictures, Romanino worked in numerous cities across northern Italy, including Padua, Cremona, Trento and Brescia, which remained his chief residence over the course of his career.
The theme of Christ Carrying the Cross, in which Jesus is presented half-length and at close range against a neutral dark background while tormented by his executioners, was enormously popular in north Italian painting in the first half of the sixteenth century. Such representations were intended to serve a devotional function, as a stimulus to prayer and pious contemplation. Most often relatively small in scale, they were typically commissioned by a private patron for display in a study, bedroom or small chapel in the home, as is likely to have been the case with the present picture.
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