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Christ carries the bodily remains of the dead up a ladder to his position on the cross. Etching by A. Hirschvogel, 1547.

Hirschvogel, Augustin, 1503-1553.


Free to use with attribution CC BYCredit: Wellcome Collection
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About this work


Christ carries the devil, cadavers and a skeleton representing sin and death as he steps on a ladder leading up to the cross. In the background, a river in a landscape. According to Falkenau, Hirschvogel's depiction is unique in German art. North Italian painters of the 13th and 14th centuries had depicted Christ being helped up a ladder on to the cross (A. Eörsi, op. cit.), but Hirschvogel emphasizes that Christ steps up willingly to sacrifice himself for mankind. Falkenau finds a similar emphasis in Luther's Postillae on Saint John the Apostle's day, 1527. Perényi was a Protestant. The Biblical texts referred to are Luke ch. 23 and II Corinthians 5, 14ff.




[Vienna] : [publisher not identified], 1547.

Physical description

1 print : etching ; image and border 13 x 13.1 cm

Publications note

Karsten Falkenau, Die "Concordantz Alt und News Testament" von 1550: ein Hauptwerk biblischer Typologie des 16. Jahrhunderts illustriert von Augustin Hirschvogel, Regensburg: Schnell u. Steiner, 1999, pl. 59b ("Kreuzbesteigung Christi mit Sünde und Tod") and pp. 87-88

A. Eörsi, 'Haec scala significal ascensum virtutum. Remarks on the iconography of Christ mounting the cross on a ladder', Arte Christiana 780 (84, 1997), pp. 151-166 (comparative paintings)

Illustrated Bartsch, vol. ?17 (old vol. 8 part 4) p. 56 as no. 3 [D] 466 [Hollstein 378]


Wellcome Library no. 2020587i

Creator/production credits

Peter Perényi (1502-1548) selected the episodes in the series, and the artist Hirschvogel was maintained by him to create the etched plates. He was a Hungarian landowner and politician involved in conflicts of the time between the Turks and the two rivals for the throne of Hungary, King John I Zápolya and King Ferdinand I, Archduke of Austria. According to the funeral address by Fabricius Szikszai on the death of Peter Perényi's son Gabriel in 1567, Peter Perényi, while imprisoned in Vienna by Ferdinand I, "historias Veteris et Novi Testamenti insigniores colligebat, appositissimeque inter se comparatas, pictoris quem ad hunc usum alabat manu scitissime curabat efformari ... quae quidem picturae venustate italicae subtilitatis non carentes, nunc quoque extant" (Falkenau, op. cit., p. 18)



  • German

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You can use this work for any purpose, including commercial uses, without restriction under copyright law. You should also provide attribution to the original work, source and licence.

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Christ carries the bodily remains of the dead up a ladder to his position on the cross. Etching by A. Hirschvogel, 1547. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

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