Arts & Culture

St. Christopher with the Infant Jesus

Donato BramanteAbout 1490

Statens Museum for Kunst
Statens Museum for Kunst

Bramante is best known as an architect, but he began his artistic career by painting and drawing. A small number of paintings - all frescoes except one - and an even smaller number of drawings from his hand are known today.

The drawing's motif

A late medieval legend tells of a giant who offers his services to the strongest person in the world. After having worked for both the emperor and the Devil in turn, exposing their weaknesses, he recognises the invincible strength of Christ and decides to serve God by helping pilgrims cross a turbulent river.

Having adopted the form of a child, Christ accepts the giant’s assistance, but in the middle of the river he reveals himself as the lord of all creation, forcing the giant to his knees. At the moment the giant, overpowered by the divine force, is pushed under the water he is baptised, and in confirmation of his baptism his staff bursts into leaf. Henceforth he is called Christophorus, the Christ-bearer.

An unfinished drawing

Bramante’s tentative indications of the placement of the staff tells us that the drawing is unfinished. The squaring of the picture plane clearly shows that the image is so close to completion that it can serve as the basis for another picture. Perhaps it was intended as a study for one of the colossal frescoes that many church façades in Lombardy, particularly in the Alps, were decorated with in order to protect the faithful against sudden death.

Read more

Details

  • Title: St. Christopher with the Infant Jesus
  • Creator: Donato Bramante
  • Date Created: About 1490
  • Værktekst: Bramante er bedst kendt som arkitekt, men han begyndte sin kunstneriske løbebane med at male og tegne. Et beskedent antal malerier - på én undtagelse nær fresker - og endnu færre tegninger kendes fra hans hånd. Tegningens motiv I en senmiddelalderlig legende optræder en kæmpe, der tilbyder den stærkeste i verden sin tjeneste. Efter at have arbejdet både for kejseren og djævelen og afsløret deres svagheder fatter han Kristi uovervindelige styrke, og han beslutter sig for at tjene Gud ved at hjælpe pilgrimme over en brusende flod. I skikkelse af et barn tager Kristus imod kæmpens assistance, men midt ude i floden åbenbarer han sig som verdens herre og tvinger kæmpen i knæ. I det øjeblik han, overmandet af den guddommelige kraft, presses ned under vandets overflade, er han døbt, og som en bekræftelse af dåben grønnes hans stav. Fra nu af kaldes han Christophorus, kristusbæreren. En uafsluttet tegning Bramantes forsøgsvise angivelser af stavens placering røber, at tegningen endnu befinder sig på et uafsluttet stadium, formentlig det allersidste, idet kvadreringen af billedfladen tydeligt angiver, at fremstillingen er så tæt på sin fuldendelse, at den kan tjene som forlæg for et andet og sikkert også større billede, måske ligefrem en af de kolossale Christophorus-fresker, der flere steder i Lombardiet, navnlig Alpeområderne, blev udført på kirkefacaderne med det formål at beskytte troende mod pludselig død.
  • Teknik: Sølvstift forhøjet med hvidt på lysegråt grunderet papir. Kvadreret
  • Proveniens: Erhvervet før 1887
  • Provenance: Acquired before 1887
  • Physical Dimensions: w19 x h30.8 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1291
  • Dansk Titel: Den hellige Christophorus
  • Type: Silverpoint
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • External Link: Statens Museum for Kunst
  • Medium: Silverpoint, heightened with white, on light grey prepared paper

Discover more