Saint Christopher Carrying the Christ Child

Object Details

Title:

Saint Christopher Carrying the Christ Child

Artist/Maker(s):

Spitz Master (French, active about 1415 - 1425)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1420

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

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

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Saint Christopher was a man of great size and strength who devoted himself to Jesus by helping travelers cross a dangerous river. One day a child asked to ride on Christopher's shoulders across the river, but the infant seemed to grow heavier and heavier with every step. When they arrived on the opposite shore, the child identified himself as Christ, telling the holy man that he had just carried the weight of the world. Saint Christopher became one of the most popular patron saints for travelers in the Middle Ages.

In the book of hours by the Spitz Master, the miniature of this scene precedes an intercessory prayer to Saint Christopher. The miniature is characterized by an intimate, even playful quality. As the saint gently grasps Jesus' foot, the child tenderly clasps the saint's hair in a gesture that underscores Jesus' humanity. In the miniature's border are scenes from the life of Saint Christopher.

With a high horizon line that flattens out the long and distant vista, the handling of the image is typical of the International style. The silvery, turbulent river extends deeply to the far horizon, while the boats' full sails give the miniature a lively character.

Related Works
Exhibitions
The International Style: Courtly Art Around the Year 1400 (October 24, 1994 to January 8, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 25, 1994 to January 8, 1995
Fit for a King: Courtly Manuscripts, 1380-1450 (June 29 to August 29, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 29 to September 5, 2004
Landscape in the Renaissance (August 1 to October 15, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 1 to October 15, 2006
Related Media
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    Audio: Saint Christopher Carrying the Christ Child