The Road to Calvary

painting by the Italian artist Simone Martini

The Road to Calvary is small. It measures only 9 7/8 inches by 6 1/8 inches. It was painted around 1340 by the Italian painter Simone Martini (ca. 1284-1344).

Martini is believed to have been in Avignon France during this time at the request of the Pope. (Avignon was the residence-in-exile for a number of popes during the fourteenth century.

This panel was part of a small alter. Its striking colors, reminiscent of the work of Duccio, suggest that Martini was indeed a student of Duccio. But, the ‘vigorous modeling of the figures’ and their dramatic gestures and expressions would appear to have been influenced by Giotto. Throughout history, art scholars have debated which of the two were Martini’s mentor. All can perhaps agree that the two artists did influence Martini’s work.

What is purely Martini in this painting is the variety of costumes, physical attributes and the overall presentation being that of truly representing life as it was.

The Road to Calvary is a painting which depicts Christ carrying the cross to Calvary. Among the crowd we see both his disciples and the Virgin Mary horrified by the scene. Roman soldiers try to maintain order among the crowd as they leave the castle. Martini included many details in the garments worn by each of the individuals in the crowd which is believed to be his own unique style. It is that style that is believed to mark the beginning of Individualism in painting where people are depicted as they really appeared rather than as a more generic figure.