- Museum number
Christ on the Road to Calvary; in the foreground Christ has fallen under the weight of the cross, at left the Virgin is collapsing into the arms of the two Maries, a Roman soldier goads him on while another is pulling him with a rope, Veronica kneeling in front offering a cloth to wipe his brow, two men with hands bound behind lead the way, men on horseback follow behind, town in the distance
Pen and black ink, grey wash, heightened with white, over black chalk, on blue-green prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 244 millimetres
Width: 356 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From at least the time it was in Everhard Jabach's collection in the seventeenth century this powerful sheet was considered to be the work of Rosso Fiorentino (1494-1540), a Florentine Mannerist artist employed by François I to decorate the interiors of his château at Fontainebleau.(n.1) The suggestion that the author of the sheet was not Rosso but his talented assistant and collaborator from Antwerp, Léonard Thiry, was made by Frederick Antal in 1931 and quickly gained widespread acceptance.(n.2)
Thiry is listed on the payroll at Fontainebleau several times between 1536 and 1540: aiding Rosso in the decoration of the Galerie François I and the Cabinet du Roi, and assisting Primaticcio with the Chambre du Roi as well as the rooms below the Galerie François I. Thiry's activities at the French court also included several series of designs for prints engraved by René Boyvin, Léon Davent and Jacques Androuet du Cerceau and many ornamental designs for decorative luxury objects and masquerade costumes.(n.3) The British Museum drawing, however, cannot be associated with any known commission or project, nor are there any drawings of similar technique associated with Thiry's hand. Thiry's work for the French court at Fontainebleau is not known to have included religious subjects of this type.
In a pair of articles published in 1996, Nicole Dacos set forth a thesis linking Thiry to Bernard van Orley's studio and proposing an early trip to Italy based on visual borrowings from Roman artists.(n.4) For Dacos many visual elements of the drawing have their source in Thiry's Flemish training.(n.5) However, until further documents or evidence come to light, proposals for Thiry's activities or whereabouts before and after his recorded presence at Fontainebleau will remain speculative.
Text by Perrin Stein, 2005 as cited below.
1 Py, 2001, p.72, no.168.
2 Kusenberg, 1931-2, p.89.
3 See Paris, Cambridge and New York, 1994, pp.92-129.
4 Dacos, 1996a and b.
5 She posits that the poses of the central figures, especially the soldier with his leg extended towards Christ's shoulder, convey a clear memory of van Orley's tapestry design on the same subject; see Dacos, 1996a, pp.208-9.
Marcia Hall has suggested that this drawing might have been used by Vasari for the painting of the same subject destined for the Cappella Buonarroti in Santa Croce, Florence (completed 1572).
Lit.: A. E. Popp, 'Rosso Fiorentino', `Old Master Drawings`, I, March 1927, pp.50-1, pl.59 (as by Rosso Fiorentino); K. Kusenberg, `Le Rosso`, Paris, 1931, pp.111-12 (here, and henceforth as Thiry); K. Kusenberg, `Zeichnungen von Rosso und Leonard Thiry', `Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst`, 65, 1931-2, pp. 85-90; A. E. Popham, `A Handbook of the Drawings and Water-colours in the Department of Prints and Drawings`, London, 1939, p.29; P. Barocchi, `Il Rosso Fiorentino`, Rome, 1950, p.107; Exhib. cat., Grand Palais, Paris, `L'École de Fontainebleau`, 1972, p.316, under no.409 (entry by Henri Zerner); E. Carroll, `The Drawings of Rosso Fiorentino`, New York and London, 1976, II, pp.493-4, no.F.37; J.-J. Lévêque, Jean-Jacques, `L'Ecole de Fontainebleau`, Neuchâtel, 1984, p.213; N. Dacos (1996a), 'Leonard Thiry de Belges, Peintre excellent. De Bruxelles à Fontainebleau en passant par Rome', `Gazette des Beaux-Arts`, CXXVII, May-June 1996, pp.209-10, figs 17, 19 and 21; ibid (1996b), 'Leonard Thiry de Belges, Peintre excellent. De Fontainebleau à Bruxelles', `Gazette des Beaux-Arts`, CXXVIII, July-August 1996, pp.21-36; B. Py, 'Everhard Jabach Collectionneur (1618-1695), Les Dessins de l'Inventaire de 1695', Paris, 2001, no. 168, p. 72; P. Stein, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art and London, BM, 'French Drawings from Clouet to Seurat', 2005, no. 6.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2002 Apr-Jun, Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Mus of Art, 'French Drawings from the British Museum'
2002 Jul-Sep, Tokyo, NM of Western Art, 'French Drawings from the British Museum'
2005/6 Nov-Jan, New York, Met Mus of Art, Clouet to Seurat/BM
2006 Jun-Oct, BM, Clouet to Seurat/BM
2007 Mar-Apr,BM Easter Passion exhibition
2018, March-May, BM, G90a, 'Fontainebleau School'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number