The article is a contribution to the iconology of sixteenth-century landscape-painting, and sets out to examine in particular the con nection between the antithethical iconography of the figural clc ment in landscapes by Joachim Patinir, Herri met dc Bles and Jan van Amstel, and Pieter Bruegel's Christ Bearing the Cross in Vienna. Also presented and elucidated is the thesis that in this painting Bruegel anticipated with many details the subjective element in the sixteenth-century beholder's interpretation, and that this subjective element in the reading of the image was anchored in the 'collective' imagery of early sixteenth-century landscape-paint ing. The author endeavours to demonstrate that the manner of reception prompted bv Bruegel's Christ Bearing the Cross is comparable with that required of the beholder of Jan van Amstcl's Landscape with Christ Bearing the Cross in Stuttgart. The uncertainty of the beholder faced with the question of whether a particular subjective interpretation of an individual detail or certain anecdote is 'correct' should not only be seen as a problem for the twentieth-century iconologist but is inherent in the actual painting, and must be judged as a positive element, intended by the painter, in the reception of the image. The beholder's personal insight and judgement in issues of good and evil are the true subject of these paintings.