Saint Christopher and the Infant Christ

Follower of Dieric Bouts Netherlandish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 953

Legend describes Saint Christopher as a Canaanite of giant stature. Using his great strength, Christopher, whose name means ‘Christ-bearer’, ferried the weak and the poor across a river. On one occasion, the saint undertook to help a child across the treacherous water, but as Christopher moved, the boy became heavier and heavier. After the laborious but successful journey, the boy revealed himself to be the Infant Christ. Here, the saint’s furrowed brow and reliance on his walking staff communicate the great burden – the weight of the world – he carries over the lapping waves. This image is linked to two other paintings of the saint that are attributed to Dieric and Aelbert Bouts and their circle: the right wing of the Adoration of the Magi triptych (also known as the Pearl of Brabant) and a panel in the Galleria Estense, Modena.

Saint Christopher and the Infant Christ, Follower of Dieric Bouts (Netherlandish, Haarlem, active by 1457–died 1475), Oil on oak panel

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