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Diego Velázquez, Christ contemplated by the Christian Soul

Key facts
Full title Christ after the Flagellation contemplated by the Christian Soul
Artist Diego Velázquez
Artist dates 1599 - 1660
Date made probably 1628-9
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 165.1 × 206.4 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by John Savile Lumley (later Baron Savile), 1883
Inventory number NG1148
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Christ contemplated by the Christian Soul
Diego Velázquez

Tied to a column, Christ has collapsed to the floor. His limp body, tilted head and pained expression show his exhaustion and suffering. Velázquez shows the moment after the Flagellation, when Christ was flogged by Roman soldiers – we can see the sticks and whip they used lying in the foreground. The brutality of this assault is implied by trickles and spots of blood on Christ’s body and the column.

Kneeling beside Christ is a young boy representing the Christian Soul and its Guardian Angel. The angel gently directs the boy to consider the suffering of Christ, and a ray of light radiates from Christ’s head towards the boy’s heart.

In the seventeenth century worshippers were encouraged to meditate on Christ’s Passion (his torture and crucifixion) and to imagine that they were present at the events leading up to the Crucifixion.

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