Follower of Jacopo Pontormo (1494–1557).
Christ Carrying the Cross.
Chalk drawing. Florence, 16th century. (BRF0108 Flat-B)
This chalk drawing by an unknown Italian artist was identified recently as an early copy of Jacopo da Pontormo’s now-ruined fresco of Christ Carrying the Cross, painted in 1525 at the Certosa da Galluzo near Florence. In his Lives of the Artists (1550), Giorgio Vasari noted that Pontormo’s fresco was deeply indebted to Dürer’s woodcuts:
“Not long before there had come from Germany to Florence many sheets printed with great subtlety by Albrecht Dürer, a most excellent German painter and engraver of plates on both copper and on wood; and among them were many scenes, large and small, of the Passion of Jesus Christ, which contained all the perfection and excellence that could ever be achieved…. Jacopo, having to paint scenes from the Passion of the Savior in the corners of the cloister, thought to avail himself of the inventions of Albrecht Dürer, in the firm belief that he would satisfy not only himself but also the greater part of the craftsmen of Florence, who were proclaiming with one voice the beauty of Albrecht’s excellent prints….”
A close comparison of Dürer’s Christ Carrying the Cross from the Small Passion (A, left) and Pontormo’s composition (B, right) shows that the Italian painter borrowed several features from the woodcut. These include the posture of St. Veronica kneeling in profile at the left, the central standing figure who prods Christ with his long staff, and the odd detail of the man in the middle ground who carries a ladder with his head projecting through its rungs.