The altarpiece representing The Betrayal of Christ is dated by Brigstoke (1973) to c. 1612–20, and is probably part of a series of altarpieces depicting the Passion of Christ. The other two pictures, of the same size, are the Mocking of Christ (Sheffield, City Art Galleries) and The Raising of the Cross (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland).
The Betrayal of Christ is possibly to be identified with the Christ Led to the Calvary formerly in the collection of Abraham Darby (mid-19th century).
The traditional representation of Christ on his way to Calvary depicts him carrying his Cross, pulled along by soldiers. However, our picture is identified as The Betrayal of Christ, an earlier episode in the Passion, by the presence of Judas who places his arm around Christ’s shoulder as he reaches to kiss him. This was the pre-arranged sign to identify Christ to the soldiers who throw ropes around him as he is taken prisoner.
Born in Bologna, the son of Ercole Procaccini, who was himself an esteemed painter, Giulio Cesare moved with his family to Milan in 1587 where he began his own artistic activity in the field of sculpture. At the age of 16, in 1590, he worked in the Cathedral and a little later he executed sculpture for Santa Maria presso San Carlo in Milan (1597–1602) and for the Duomo of Cremona (1597–1600). Turning to painting, Procaccini began to depart, more than his father, from the stylistic ingenuity offered in Milan by the paintings of Cerano.