Christ on the Way to Calvary

Christ on the Way to Calvary

Ferraù Fenzoni

oil on canvas
100 x 130 cm
short description

A gloomy atmosphere conjured by the brown of the sky hangs over the scene, its drama further intensified by the close-up view compressing the agitated figures into the available space. A bare-chested hireling forcefully grips the hands of Christ who is about to fall, as two Roman centurions in armour drag him roughly to his place of execution. Stylistic elements such as the harsh quality of the drapery and the dull palette used in the work have prompted scholars to opt for a late date by comparison with other work that Fenzoni produced around this time.

inventary n°

The picture was first attributed to Fenzoni by Federico Argnani in 1881. The artist, who trained in Rome in the 1580s at the peak of the late Mannerist movement, is likely to have painted it towards the end of his career. On his return to Faenza in 1599, he became involved in the decoration of several churches in the city (for example the Madonna del Fuoco, where he had been granted a funerary chapel), but he also continued to work for private patrons. We may assume, on the strength of its size, that it was for one such patron that he painted this Way to Calvary, although its provenance is unknown.

The style of the picture points to a later date in his career, c.1622–30. The harsh quality of the drapery and the anatomy, together with the dull overall tone, have prompted scholars to opt for a date in line with his other work from those years (The Deposition of Christ, The Death of the Virgin, Pinacoteca Comunale di Faenza).
Fenzoni tended to devote a great deal of energy to the preparatory drawings for his work. For this painting we have two preparatory drawings, both from the collection of Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici and both now in the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe degli Uffizi (n. 12674F 1 ; n. 12675F 2 )

S. Casadei, La Pinacoteca di Faenza, Bologna 1991, p. 88

R. Eitel Portel: Ferraù Fenzoni in Saur, Allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon, München 2003, p. 203

G. Scavizzi, N. Schwed, Ferraù Fenzoni: pittore disegnatore, Todi 2006, p. 181

G. Viroli: “La pittura in Romagna”, in La pittura in Emilia e Romagna, Milano 1994, p. 320

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written by
Sveva Carnevale