The subject of the painting is Christ's carrying of the cross to the hill of Golgotha, which rises up in the centre of the picture as a tall rock, the crosses already erected upon it. Directly beneath it in the foreground we see Christ in a flame red robe. He has collapsed under the heavy weight of the cross. To the right, Veronica, holding the sudarium, turns away from the dramatic scene, visibly moved. To the left, the two thieves likewise condemned to crucifixion are being led forward. In the exact centre of the picture, between Christ's cross and the hill of Golgotha, and directly facing the viewer, are the figures of Jesus' disciples, together with Mary and Mary Magdalene. Brightly illuminated, they stand out symbolically from the other figures.