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Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano, Christ Crowned with Thorns

Key facts
Full title Christ Crowned with Thorns
Artist Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano
Artist dates about 1459/60 - about 1517/18
Date made about 1510
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 36.8 × 29.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1890
Inventory number NG1310
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ Crowned with Thorns
Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano

Christ’s head is shown in vivid close up in this little picture, his pale face and brilliant robe stark against the black background. Bright light falling from the left allows us to see every pitiful detail: the thorns thrust into his forehead, the blood dripping down his face and his red-rimmed eyes. A single tear falls from his left eye as he gazes past us and into the future, at the horror of his imminent suffering and death on the Cross.

The painting’s small size means that it was meant to be seen from close to, where it had maximum impact, and its intense emotion was intended to arouse pity. The original owner who commissioned this work for his private chamber might have knelt before it, or even held it his or her hands while meditating on the pain of the Passion (Christ’s torture and death).

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