The Road to Calvary

Artist: Follower of the Master of the Lorsch Calvary

Date: ca. 1440

Geography: Made in Middle Rhineland, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Alabaster

Dimensions: 7 3/8 × 11 7/16 × 13/16 in. (18.8 × 29 × 2 cm)

Classification: Sculpture-Stone

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1996

Accession Number: 1996.581


The composition of this devotional relief relies on a larger-scale example in terracotta of about 1425, now fragmentary, but known through an 1837 engraving, which was found in the Martinskirche, Lorsch, on the Middle Rhine, between Koblenz and Mainz (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Skulpturensammlung). Notwithstanding the compositional indebtedness, the focus here shifts from the historical narrative to the emotional intensity that charges this dramatic scene, primarily as a result of the dense composition and the exaggeratedly grotesque portrayal of Christ's tormentors. Thus, the work serves its devotional function, aided by the inscription, which exhorts the viewer to contemplate the sufferings of Christ and to recognize that through them man can achieve the kingdom of Heaven.