The image of Christ carrying the Cross was one which the artist returned to several times in his career.1 Probably the earliest, without the tormentor and against a plain background, is signed and dated 1503 and is today in Berlin. Variants of the Berlin type, each signed, include those in the Vatican, in the Monastero del Corpus Domini, Forli (dated 1521) and at the Temple Newsam, Leeds (dated 1535). A much wider type, of horizontal format, in the Pinacoteca in Forlì, includes three figures to the left of Christ, and is also signed and dated 1535. Two of the additional figures, however, are not tormentors but devotees of Christ, perhaps Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Of this type numerous variants are known, of which perhaps the earliest is the signed and dated panel in the Museo Correr in Venice.
The third type includes the signed panel in the Cassa di Risparmio in Forlì, as well as the present work, which probably dates from the 1510s. The latter should pre-date, on the basis of style, a signed variant recently with Carlo Virgilio, which introduces a second tormentor and switches the extended landscape to the right-hand side.
1 For a full discussion of the different types and their locations, see Viroli, under Literature.
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