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Correggio, Christ presented to the People (Ecce Homo)

Key facts
Full title Christ presented to the People (Ecce Homo)
Artist Correggio
Artist dates active 1494; died 1534
Date made probably about 1525-30
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 99.7 × 80 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1834
Inventory number NG15
Location Room 9
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Christ presented to the People (Ecce Homo)

Christ, bound and crowned with thorns, is condemned to be crucified by Pontius Pilate. ‘Ecce Homo’ (‘Behold the man’) were the words used by Pilate when he presented Christ to the people before the Crucifixion (John 19: 2–5). Pilate, wearing a turban, raises his hand to indicate that he is speaking. The Virgin Mary swoons and is supported by Saint John the Evangelist. The soldier on the right may be Longinus, the Roman centurion who recognised Christ’s divinity at the Crucifixion.

During Correggio’s time, it was common in paintings of this subject to put the viewer in the place of the crowd that condemned Christ to death – the position we occupy here. However, the swooning Virgin is not mentioned in the Gospels and is not usually represented. Correggio was probably inspired by the frontispiece of Dürer’s Small Engraved Passion, which shows Christ crowned with thorns with the Virgin and Saint John. Correggio’s Virgin scrapes her nails along the parapet as she falls backwards, a detail unique to this painting.

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