Relief in the choir apse

The motif

In the middle of the relief, right above from the altar, Jesus stands tall facing the church space with the cross over one shoulder. The cross is supported by a man behind Jesus. Following him are a group of women and men appearing to be in despair, high ranking Jews on horseback and Roman soldiers. At the far left Pontius Pilate is washing his hands in a bowl held in front of him by a young boy. In front of Jesus the executioners walk with ladder, hammer and nails, along with two tied-up prisoners, who are also going to be crucified, Roman soldiers and the Centurion on horseback. Outermost are spectators and a dog on the way to the place of execution.

The story

In the relief, which Thorvaldsen modelled himself at Nysø Manor, he connects the stories of the interrogation, the bearing of the cross though Jerusalem and the Crucifixion.
Hans Christian Andersen has this anecdotal memory of Thorvaldsen and the relief:

One morning when he was moulding the clay for his great bas-relief “Christ on his way to Golgotha”, which now decorates Church of Our Lady. I stepped into his atelier. “Tell me”, he said, “Do you find that I have dressed Pilate in the appropriate attire?” “Do not tell him a thing!” shouted Baroness Stampe, who was still by him. “It’s appropriate, it’s splendid! Please go away!” Thorvaldsen repeated his question; “Very well!” I replied, “Since you are asking, I really must say that here Pilate is dressed more like an Egyptian than a Roman!” “Didn’t I say so?!” answered Thorvaldsen, and he reached into the clay with his hand and tore the figure. “Now you are to blame for him destroying an immortal masterpiece!” shouted the Baroness. “Then we can make another immortal piece!” he said in merriment and shaped Pilate as he now appears in the bas-relief in Church of Our Lady.