The Way to Calvary
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Spitz Master
French, Paris, about 1420
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
7 15/16 x 5 7/8 in.
MS. 57, FOL. 31

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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.

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