The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Way to Calvary

Object Details


The Way to Calvary


Spitz Master (French, active about 1415 - 1425)




Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1420


Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 57 (94.ML.26), fol. 31


Leaf: 20.2 × 14.9 cm (7 15/16 × 5 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

The graceful miniature of the Way to Calvary by the Spitz Master introduces the Passion story from the Gospel of Saint John. Amidst elegantly dressed soldiers and his followers, Jesus carries his cross through Jerusalem's city gate. He is barefoot but wears a fine robe trimmed in gold thread. The face of his mother, the Virgin Mary, standing beneath the city gate, echoes his sad expression. Far in the background, Judas hangs himself. This small image enriches the narrative by referring to an earlier event, Judas' betrayal, that led eventually to the Crucifixion. The pairing of this miniature with the Passion reading from the Gospels encourages the reader to envision and sympathize with Jesus in his suffering. The inclusion of expensive materials, including burnished silver and gold highlights, and the figures' exquisite costumes, dance-like movements, and tender expressions all epitomize the refinement and elegance of the International style associated with court art of the early 1400s.

Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript illumination (December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998
Five Hundred Years of Manuscript Illumination (February 11 to June 1, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 11 to June 1, 2003
The Limbourg Brothers: Origins and Legacy of Three Guelders Artists and Their Relatives (August 28 to November 20, 2005)
  • Museum Het Valkhof (Nijmegen), August 28 to November 20, 2005
Fashion in the Middle Ages (May 31 to August 14, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 31 to August 14, 2011