The itinerary <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> has been successfully created. Now you can add in works from the Collection browser
<em>TITULOOBRA</em> added to <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> itinerary

Christ carrying the Cross
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
Close Continuar a ficha de la obra

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)

Candia, Crete (Greece), 1541 - Toledo (Spain), 1614

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) See author's file

Christ carrying the Cross

Ca. 1602. Oil on canvas.
Room 008B

A slightly more than half-length image of Jesus wearing a red tunic and blue robes. Holding the cross with both hands, he rests it on his left shoulder. His head is slightly raised and his watery eyes bear a serene, resigned expression as he looks to the heavens. The crown of thorns on his head is reinforced by a luminous rhomboidal halo. The precisely rendered crown shows each of the tender, interwoven branches bearing small shoots. It is perfectly set on Jesus’s forehead and a few drops of blood have fallen onto his neck from the small cuts caused by its thorns. There is no sign of pain on his face, however, and he shows neither anguish nor the effort of carrying the cross, which he seems to embrace like a light instrument on which to rest his large, delicate hands. The image is reinforced by its presentation of Christ’s figure in a sotto in su perspective, that is, looking upwards from a very low viewpoint. The background is a stormy sky of the sort quiet characteristic of El Greco’s works, with no narrative references to distract the viewer’s complete focus on the figure of Christ and his relation to the cross.

This composition is an autographic variant of one of El Greco’s subjects. And while the subject was not completely original, it was widely accepted in his time. Some authors have praised El Greco’s brilliant ability to transform a traditionally narrative representation into a votive image, and this is explained by the Counter-Reformist mentality of Spanish spirituality. The model for Christ’s physique here coincides with that of the Disrobing of Christ that El Greco painted for Toledo Cathedral in 1578.

Images of Christ carrying the cross on his way to Calvary were relatively frequent in Christian iconography, and examples from as far back as Paleo-Christian art are linked to texts referring to the cross’s symbolic role as an instrument of salvation and the attainment of eternal life. El Greco transformed the stark views of Christ in pain and weighed down by exhaustion and physical punishment on the Via Dolorosa, which had had important repercussions in the second half of the 16th century, both in Italy (Sebastiano del Piombo, Corregio and Titian) and in Spain, where small devotional panels by Luis de Morales (ca. 1515-1586) were highly accepted between the 1560s and the 1580s. Morales imbued the cross with an undeniably allegorical character that was linked to the Medieval meditations attributed to Pseudo-Buenaventura (Meditationes vitae Christi). The devotional character of his works carries over into El Greco’s compositions, but the latter replace Morales’s dark, neutral backgrounds with spectacular skies. Moreover, El Greco pushes the figure’s sotto in su perspective to such a point that the conception is practically sculptural, and possibly related to images from the Holy Week processions that were so important in Spanish religion at that time. Those images, however, retained a sense of pain as a means of stimulating believers’ compassion and empathy.

This version from the Museo del Prado is of great quality, brilliantly executed and very successful in its colors and lighting. The hands are outstanding, with the mother-of-pearl nails characteristic of El Greco, and they are shaped with great sensitivity. The work must have been painted around 1600-1605, following completion of the altarpiece at the College of doña María de Aragón in Madrid (1596-1600) and the group of works for the Hospital de la Caridad in Illescas, Toledo (1603-1605). This work entered the Museo del Prado in 1872 via the former Museo de la Trinidad, which had gathered works from the convents closed by the disentailment laws promulgated by Juan Álvarez Mendizábal between 1835 and 1837.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, p.96-97


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
Christ carrying the Cross
Ca. 1602
Height: 108 cm; Width: 78 cm
Trinidad Museum

Bibliography +

Cruzada Villaamil, Gregorio, Catálogo provisional, historial y razonado del Museo Nacional de Pinturas, Madrid, 1865, pp. n. 58.

Viniegra, Salvador, Catálogo ilustrado de la exposición de las obras de Domenico Theotocopuli llamado 'El Greco', J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1902, pp. 16 n.2124f il..

Cossío, Manuel B.1857-1935, El Greco, Victoriano Suárez, Madrid, 1908, pp. 332 n.70.

Mayer, A. L., Domenico Theotocopuli, El Greco, Munich, 1926, pp. n.63.

Aguilera, Emiliano M., Domenicos Theotocópulos el Greco, Iberia, Barcelona, 1933, pp. 15.

Polentinos, Conde de, El convento de San Hermenegildo de Madrid, BOLETIN DE LA SOCIEDAD ESPAÑOLA DE EXCURSIONES, 41, 1933, pp. 36-42,50.

Busuioceanu, Al, Les tableaux du Greco dans la collection Royale de Roumanie, GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS: LA CHRONIQUE DES ARTS, 11/12, 1934, pp. 288.

Legendre, M. Hartmann, A, Domenico Theotocopouli dit el Greco, Hyperion, Paris, 1937, pp. 183.

Noul, M., Sotomayor, F., Muguruza, P., Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1939.

Noul, M., Sotomayor, F., Muguruza, P., Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1939, pp. n.8.

Camón Aznar, José1898-1979, Dominico Greco I y II, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1950, pp. 323-340 n.122.

Soehner, Halldor, Greco in Spainien. Teil I. Grecos Stilentwicklung in Spanien, Münchner jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, VIII, 1957, pp. 123-194 [179].

Soehner, Halldor, Greco in Spainien. Teil II. Atelier und Nachfolge Greco's; Teil III katalog der Gëmalde Grecos, seines ateliers und seiner Nachfolge in Spanischem besitz, Münchner jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, IX-X, 1958-1959, pp. 147-242 [n.92].

Wethey, Harold, El Greco y su escuela, II, Guadarrama, Madrid, 1967, pp. 55-56 n.56.

Camón Aznar, José, Dominico Greco, I, II, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1970, pp. 356, (Vol II nº 128).

Salas, Xavier de, La obra pictórica completa de el Greco, Noguer, Barcelona Madrid, 1970, pp. n.97h.

Gudiol, José, El Greco 1541-1614: Doménikos Theotokópoulos, Polígrafa, Barcelona, 1971, pp. 199 n.354.

Rodríguez Culebras, Ramón, El Rostro de Cristo en el Arte Español, Urbion, Madrid, 1978, pp. 172.

Cossío, Manuel B., El Greco, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1981.

Pita Andrade, José Manuel, El Greco, Arnoldo Mondadori, Milán, 1981, pp. 182 n.217.

Metford, Jcj, Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend, Thames and Hudson, Londres, 1983, pp. 255.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 313.

Pita Andrade, José Manuel1922-2009, El Greco, CarroggioS.A., Milan, 1985, pp. 112.

Álvarez Lopera, José, La Pasión de Cristo en la pintura del Greco, Cuadernos de arte de la Fundacion universitaria española, 1985, pp. 21-22.

Domínguez Ortiz, Antonio, El Greco. La sociedad castellana de la época de El Greco, Historia 16, 13, 1987, pp. 54.

Du Greco a Goya: chefs-d'oeuvre du Prado et de collections e, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1989, pp. 30 n.8.

Davies, D., El Greco of Crete. Exhibition on the Occasion of the 450th A, Municipalite of Iraklion, Iraklion, 1990, pp. n.19.

Bronstein, Leo, El Greco: Domenicos Theotocopoulos, Julio Ollero, Madrid, 1990, pp. 80.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (II). Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991, pp. nº58.

Álvarez Lopera, José, El Greco: la obra esencial, Silex, Madrid, 1993, pp. 158 n.207.

Arte y Mistica del Barroco, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura, Mejico, 1994.

El Greco: su revalorizacion por el modernismo catalán, Museu Nacional d'Art de CatalunyaProaEnciclopedia, Barcelona, 1996, pp. 146.

El Greco: su revalorizacion por el modernismo catalán, Museu Nacional d'Art de CatalunyaProaEnciclopedia, Barcelona, 1996, pp. 146-151 n.19.

Marías, Fernando, El Greco . Guía, Alianza Editorial - Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1998, pp. 33.

Ferino Pagden, Sylvia, El Greco, Kunsthistoriches MuseumSkira, Vienna,Milano, 2001, pp. 174.

Museo Nacional del Prado, El Greco y la pintura española del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 116.

Alvarez Lopera, José, El Greco en las colecciones reales. Los retratos del Museo del Prado en EL GRECO, GALAXIA GUTENBERG, Madrid, 2003, pp. 175-215.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 68.

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado., Tokio - Osaka, 2006.

De Tiziano a Goya: grandes maestros del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado: SEACEX, Madrid, 2007, pp. 206.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, El Greco en el Museo Nacional del Prado: catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 125-129.

El Prado en el Hermitage, Museo Estatal del Hermitage: Museo del Prado, 2011, pp. 96-97.

Renacimiento y Barroco en las Colecciones de la Universidad de Zaragoza, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 2012, pp. 32.

Barón, Javier, 'El Greco & la pintura moderna' En:, El Greco & la pintura moderna, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 15-49 [47].

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, 'El Greco arte y oficio. Invención e interpretación' En:, El Greco arte y oficio, Fundación El Greco 2014, 2014, pp. 40-65 [53].

Fernández Chillerón, Ramón, El Greco de El Bonillo. Crónica de un hallazgo, Ayuntamiento de El Bonillo, 2014.

Portús Pérez, Javier, El Greco y la pintura europea: del Surrealismo a las nuevas figuraciones, en: El Greco & la pintura moderna, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 276-311 [299].

Dal Bello, Mario., El Greco: le illuminazioni, Libreria editrice vaticana, 2014, pp. 82-83.

Barón, Javier, 'La influencia del Greco en la pintura moderna. Del siglo XIX a la difusión del Cubismo' En:, El Greco & la pintura moderna, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 101-197 [127].

Ruiz de Loizaga, M., 'El controvertido legado bizantino en la obra pictórica del Greco', Cuadernos de arte e iconografía, 2 semestre n.48, 2015, pp. 355-434 [392 f.26].

Garrido Pérez, Carmen, El Greco pintor: estudio técnico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 215-219,445 f.20 n.20.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 2124f.

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 58.
58. / Nuestro Señor con la Cruz a cuestas figura de (más de medio cuerpo) firmado Dom.ico Theotocopuli llamado el Greco. / Rdo Alto 1,08; ancho 0,88. / Forrado y restaurado colgado en la galeria principal / Nº 101 / C.B.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 822.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 822.

Inscriptions +

doménikos theotokópoulos [en caracteres griegos]
Inscribed in brown color. Front, Lower right area

Scrap of paper. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Museo del Prado 1819-2019. A place of memory
19.11.2018 - 10.03.2019

El Greco and Modern Painting
24.06.2014 - 05.10.2014

The Imaginary Museum
27.04.2012 - 29.07.2012

El Prado en el Hermitage
San Petersburgo
25.02.2011 - 29.05.2011

El Greco in the Prado
04.12.2007 - 17.02.2008

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
13.09.2007 - 12.11.2007

From Titian to Goya. Great Masters from the Museo del Prado
29.06.2007 - 24.08.2007

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

El Greco
02.05.2001 - 02.09.2001

La revalorización moderna de El Greco y el modernismo catalán
20.12.1996 - 02.03.1997

Arte y mística de la época virreinal, 1600-1730
México D.F.
14.03.1994 - 12.06.1994

El Greco. 450 Aniversario de su nacimiento
01.09.1990 - 10.10.1990

Obras maestras de la Pintura Española: del Siglo de Oro a Goya
14.06.1989 - 24.09.1989

Location +

Room 008B (On Display)


Displayed objects +

Objects from Christ's Passion

Update date: 02-06-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

Other works by El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)

Print on demand

Print artworks available in our catalogue in high quality and your preferred size and finish.

Image archive

Request artworks available in our catalogue in digital format.