The Road to Calvary

This 16th century painting, The Road to Calvary, was donated to the King Baudouin Foundation in 2009 by the Jacobs van Merlen family. It was painted in the tradition of Hieronymus Bosch, a painter whose work was enjoying a revival in the early 16th century.

This large work represents Christ on the way to his place of execution, carrying the Cross on his left shoulder, amidst a large group of armed figures wearing somewhat exotic clothes. Painted in oil on an oak panel, the painting carries a monogram similar to the initials of Jan Mandijn (1502-1560), an artist to whom the painting was for a long time attributed.

This painting, however, differs from Mandijn’s work, both stylistically and technically. The conclusions of a fascinating analysis commissioned by the King Baudouin Foundation, show that the work can be linked to two other similar compositions, which place it in the tradition of Hieronymus Bosch, but refute its attribution to Jan Mandijn. The Foundation’s Heritage Fund has published a richly illustrated book about the research on the painting.

As the donors of this Road to Calvary are related to the family of Fritz Mayer van den Bergh, the work has been entrusted to the Mayer van den Bergh Museum in Antwerp. This important testimony to the perpetuation of the pictorial style of Hieronymus Bosch, which became something of a fashion among Antwerp painters, is now exhibited in the museum’s Breughel Room, where it engages in dialogue with Pieter Brueghel’s Dulle Griet. The iconography of Breughel’s painting, with its strange and monstrous creatures, reminds us of the characteristic style of Bosch.

Website Museum Mayer van den Bergh

Material / technique: 
Oil on panel
107 x 149 cms
Type of acquisition: 
Donated by the Jacobs van Merlen family
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp