Carrying the Cross - Jerome Bosch. 85.3 x 76.7 cm
The picture from Ghent is one of three created by Bosch under the same name. But this well-known scene is presented from the specific position of Bosch and only in his one inherent manner.
The picture can be called a collage of images, and images of ugly, even disgusting and monstrous. There is no free space on it and no perspective whatsoever, only a plane densely filled with the heads of the characters and some details.
The head of Christ with a huge heavy cross made of solid wood on his shoulder is located almost in the center of the picture. It is the semantic center of the work, the focus on which all views are directed. But Jesus Christ himself does not want to look at the disgusting world surrounding him with vile, ugly people who want only his death. He is depicted with his eyes closed, and this is deeply symbolic, completely in the spirit of Bosch.
Another normal human face that stands out sharply from the grotesque monsters is Saint Veronica. Although this character as such is not in the Bible, and her name appeared only as a result of a translation error, Veronica and her legendary circuit board with a miraculous image firmly entered Christian mythology. According to legend, this kind woman gave a suffering scarf going to Calvary a clean handkerchief to wipe her sweat. On it miraculously remained the bright face of Jesus, which arose as evidence of its divine origin.
In the picture, the saint is depicted in a corner, she turned away from Christ and smiles tenderly, holding a handkerchief with the image of the Savior, which in the Orthodox tradition is called the Holy Savior. She alone, like the son of God, has a normal human face.
The rest who crowded around are terrible freaks. Obviously, the artist wanted to show that the inner ugliness of these people was reflected in their terrible, unattractive, even repulsive appearance. This is an image of triumphant anger, gloating, hatred, petty, miserable and insignificant feelings that overwhelm these people who do not understand the true greatness and size of the sacrifice made by Christ.
Three were crucified at Calvary. The other two are robbers sentenced to death. One of them, with a gray face, is confused before the upcoming torments, and the second is an evil creature, aggressively gouging on equally disgusting attendants. The unique presentation of a classic religious motive is characteristic of Bosch's unusual creative manner, it makes the picture recognizable.