Christ Carrying the Cross, Spain, Castile, Valladolid, mid 16th century

Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross

Walnut, with original polychrome and gilding
Spain, Castile, Valladolid, mid 16th century


55.5 cm; 1 ft. 9⅘ in.
44 cm; 1 ft. 5⅓ in.
16.5 cm; 6½ in.


Private collection, France

Related literature

E. García Chico, Juan de Juni (Escuela de Artes y Oficios Artisticos, EAOA, Valladolid, 1949)
A. Griseri, Juan de Juni (Fratelli Fabbri, Milan, 1966)
J. J. Martín González, Juan de Juni. Vida y obra (Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1974)
Juan de Juni y su epoca: exposicion conmemorativa del IV centenario de la muerte de Juan de Juni, exhibition catalogue, Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid, Iglesia de la Pasión, April – May 1977; Salas de la Direccíon General del Patrimonio Artístico y Cultural, Madrid, May – June 1977 (Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1977)
M. A. Fernández del Hoyo, Juan de Juni: escultor (Ediciones Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, 2012)

This beautiful composition shows Christ, centred and in profile, carrying the cross, his long tunic falling to the floor, legs bending under its weight which he carries on his left shoulder. Three Roman soldiers surround him, two wearing pleated and embossed leather uniforms with decorated helmets, the third in slit knickerbockers and a turban, their stances threatening, their expressions menacing. Bearded, moustached and muscular, they taunt the Saviour, their whips now lost. In the top left hand corner, Saint John supports the overcome Virgin; on the right, a trumpet player announces the procession.

Superbly balanced, this highly expressive and emotive sculpture follows closely the style of Juan de Juni, the renowned Franco-Spanish sculptor, who was born in Joigny in 1506 and died in Valladolid in 1577, having moved to Spain in the 1530s, settling in Valladolid, the principal centre of court activity. Alonso Berruguete (Paredes de Nava c. 1488 – 1561 Valladolid) had also opened his workshop there for the same reasons. Both artists would become the founders of the Castilian school of polychrome sculpture. Works by Juan de Juni can be seen in various Castilian cities such as Leon, Salamanca, Segovia, Burgos and Palencia, and, above all, in Valladolid, in the Museo Nacional de Escultura, Museo Catedralicio and Museo Arqueológico.

With the rounded faces and the manner of the treatment of cloth, the present relief exhibits the type of characteristics which best define de Juni. With strict adherence to the rules of proportion and internal measurement, each figure has a sense of grandeur regardless of its size, a quality derived from Italian mannerism and the monumental aesthetic of Michelangelo. The soft garments inspired by classical art, the expression of pathos or moral pain and the depiction of the eyes staring into a world beyond human experience are other distinctive aspects of de Juni′s work, features discernible here. In an excellent state of preservation, with extensive original polychrome and gilding, our sculpture is a splendid example of the high quality devotional art produced by mid 16th century Castilian craftsmen.

SOLD: Private collection, United States