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Emperor Heraclius Denied Entry into Jerusalem

A work made of tempera and oil on panel.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of tempera and oil on panel.





About this artwork

This panel recounts the adventures of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, who rescued the True Cross and returned it to Jerusalem after its capture by Chosroës, king of Persia. These scenes were probably part of an extended narrative on an altarpiece dedicated to the Holy Cross, a relic that was much venerated in the Middle Ages.

In this scene, the emperor brings the True Cross back to Jerusalem in triumph. However, an angel bars his way, pointing out the vanity of his procession in comparison to Christ’s humble entry into the city. Only when the emperor dismounted and approached in humility was he allowed to enter, a scene that was no doubt once part of the sequence. Here the emperor is identifiable by the double-headed eagle, which was an emblem of both the Holy Roman emperor of the day and past emperors.


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Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Emperor Heraclius Denied Entry into Jerusalem


Netherlands (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Tempera and oil on panel


67.6 × 54.2 cm (26 5/8 × 21 5/16 in.); Painted surface: 67 × 53 cm (26 3/8 × 20 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

George F. Harding Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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