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Saint Christopher

Follower of Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish (active Bruges), c. 1395 - 1441

Made in Netherlands (historical name, 15th-16th century), Europe

c. 1460-1470

Oil on panel

11 5/8 x 8 5/16 inches (29.5 x 21.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 373, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:
Cat. 342

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Saint Christopher, long a popular patron saint of travelers, was a giant who transported people across a river on his back. One night he carried the infant Christ across the river, remarking on the great weight of so small a passenger. The child, in fact, was holding a crystal orb and thereby was bearing the weight of the world. This legend accounts for the saint's name, Christopher, which means "Christ-bearer" in Greek.

The small scale and jewel-like rendition of details in this painting tie it closely to the school of painting founded by Jan van Eyck.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.