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Head of Christ Crowned with Thorns
After Guido Reni
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A crown of thorns was placed on Christ’s head in the lead up to his crucifixion, while Roman soldiers mockingly declared him ‘King of the Jews’ (Matthew 27: 29). This detailed portrayal of Christ’s face convincingly conveys his anguish in the aftermath of this torment. Guido Reni and his studio produced numerous versions of this composition, though this work may have been painted by a later follower of Reni, perhaps as late as the early eighteenth century.

The Head of Christ or Ecce Homo is one of the most frequently represented subjects in seventeenth-century painting. Following the Counter-Reformation (the self-imposed disciplining of the Catholic Church to ‘counter’ the successes of the Protestant Reformation), portrayals of Christ’s suffering became increasingly popular, as such images provoked empathy and devotion in viewers. One of the functions of seventeenth-century art was to instil an understanding of human experience, and Reni’s expressive, close-up images of the suffering Christ did just that.Counter-Reformation

Key facts
Artist After Guido Reni
Artist dates 1575 - 1642
Full title Head of Christ Crowned with Thorns
Date made 1640-1749
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 56 x 42.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Samuel Rogers, 1855
Inventory number NG271
Location in Gallery Not on display
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