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Dirk Bouts, Christ Crowned with Thorns

Key facts
Full title Christ Crowned with Thorns
Artist Dirk Bouts
Artist dates 1400? - 1475
Date made about 1470
Medium and support Oil with egg tempera on canvas backed onto board, transferred from wood
Dimensions 43.8 × 37.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Joseph H. Green, 1880
Inventory number NG1083
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Christ Crowned with Thorns
Dirk Bouts

Christ wears the rich cloak and the crown of thorns in which, according to the Gospels, he was dressed before he was crucified. But the wounds of the Passion (his torture and crucifixion) indicate that he has already died and been resurrected.

Bouts brings Jesus’s torments vividly to life, showing him close up and in agonising detail. Our eyes are drawn to the blue shadows of the thorns thrust deep into his forehead and those around the holes in his hands. His translucent tears mingle with the blood dripping down his face.

This graphic image might seem shocking now, but in the late fifteenth century images of the weeping and suffering Christ were very popular, and were produced in large numbers in the workshop of Bouts and his followers. Small devotional paintings like this were used to aid private prayer.

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