About this artwork

The huge figure of St Christopher looms out of the dark background, as he stoops under the weight of the diminutive Christ Child. According to legend, it was only when Christopher reached the other side of the river, having carried a child across, who had seemed to get heavier and heavier, that Christ revealed his true identity. He explained to the saint that he had been carrying 'the weight of the world' on his shoulders. The nocturnal setting emphasises Christ's divine light and adds to the drama. Borgianni painted several versions of this composition.

  • title: Saint Christopher Carrying the Infant Christ
  • accession number: NG 48
  • artist: Orazio BorgianniItalian ( about 1578 - 1616)
  • depicted: St Christopher
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Children Christian saints Religious
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1615
  • measurements: 104.00 x 78.00 cm (framed: 125.60 x 99.80 x 9.60 cm)
  • credit line: Presented to the Royal Scottish Academy by Sir John Watson Gordon 1850; transferred to the National Gallery of Scotland 1910
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Orazio Borgianni

Orazio Borgianni

The theatrical lighting and weighty figures of Borgianni's religious paintings reflect the influence of Caravaggio's works in Rome. Borgianni was born in Tuscany, but moved to Rome when he was still a boy. His earliest dated work of 1593 was painted for a church in Sicily. He also spent some time in Spain, but had returned to Rome by 1606. Borgianni developed considerable fluency in his handling of paint, possibly stimulated by the examples of Venetian and Lombard artists working in Rome. His sober colouring, however, was closer to Caravaggio's example.