Two major works from our collection are part of an exhibition at the Bonnefanten Museum that focuses on representations of the Ways of the Cross during the 16th century.
The Road to Calvary, painted in the tradition of Hieronymus Bosch, represents Christ carrying the Cross on his left shoulder and walking to the place of his execution amidst a group of armed characters wearing rather exotic clothes. This work is one of the oldest examples of representing the Way of the Cross as an iconographic subject in its own right.
The Chemin de Croix (The Way of the Cross) by Henri Blès, was one of the artist’s favourite subjects and he painted several versions. In this one, Henri Blès moved away from the classical iconographic representation of the theme, choosing instead a panoramic landscape that was part of the tradition of the period.
The Ways of the Cross were very popular subjects at the end of the Middle Ages. Initially, such works simply represented the Passion of Christ, the culmination of which was the Crucifixion. From the 16th century, however, such works became iconographic themes in their own right, rich in details and meanings, sometimes also bearing hidden critical comments about contemporary power structures and religious reality.
In its latest exhibition, the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht enables you to (re-)discover this artistic tradition by creating a dialogue between the mystic Chemin de Croix of Pieter Brueghel the Younger and the representations of his contemporaries. Among them are these two major works from the King Baudouin Foundation’s collection.