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Key facts
Full title Christ before Pilate (Front of Panel), The Mass of Saint Gregory (Reverse of Panel)
Artist Master of the Aachen Altarpiece
Artist dates active late 15th to early 16th century
Group The Crucifixion Altarpiece
Date made about 1490-5
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 109.1 × 54.2 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery
Inventory number L918.1
Location Room 62
Art route(s) A
Image copyright On loan from National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, © Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool
Collection Main Collection
Christ before Pilate (Front of Panel)
Master of the Aachen Altarpiece

This is the left-hand panel of a triptych painted for the church of St Columba, Cologne.

Front
The front of the left panel shows two scenes from the Passion of Christ that took place before the Crucifixion, 'Christ before Pilate’ and ‘Christ in front of the people’. These two related stories illustrate the Gospels’ telling of how the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate sentenced Christ to be crucified, despite the fact that he believed he was innocent.

Reverse
The reverse of this panel shows the miracle of the Mass of Saint Gregory, in which the figure of the crucified Christ appeared to Pope Gregory the Great on the altar as he was celebrating mass.

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The Crucifixion Altarpiece

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This altarpiece was commissioned by the family of Hermann Rinck, who was burgomaster (or mayor) of Cologne three times in the 1480s, after his death in around 1496. It stood on the altar of their family chapel in the church of Saint Columba in the city.

The altarpiece is in the form of a triptych (a painting made up of three panels). Its two side panels – or shutters – are in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. The altarpiece was dismantled and the panels separated some time between 1810 and 1820. The central panel, which is in the National Gallery’s collection, shows Christ’s crucifixion. The shutters show the episodes leading up to the Crucifixion and those that followed it.

When the altarpiece was cleaned in 1963, overpaint on the reverse of the shutters was removed, revealing paintings of Rinck and his wife with three of their sons.