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Christ Crowned with Thorns
Matteo di Giovanni
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After being condemned to death, Christ was forcibly crowned with a wreath of thorns. This was the Roman soldiers‘ attempt to humiliate him as, amongst other things, Christ was accused of claiming to be ‘the king of the Jews’. Images like this confronted viewers with Christ’s suffering, encouraging their empathy and leading to deeper devotion.

Christ’s halo – not always included in such images – is inscribed with the abbreviated Greek version of Christ’s name, meaning ’Jesus Christ of Nazareth'. The Latin script around the edges of the picture comes from the New Testament book of Philippians (2: 10). The same verse is sometimes inscribed on the plaque of Saint Bernardino, a fervent preacher active in Siena in the fifteenth century who promoted devotion to the name of Jesus.

Key facts
Artist Matteo di Giovanni
Artist dates active 1452; died 1495
Full title Christ Crowned with Thorns
Date made 1480-95
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 21.6 x 21.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG247
Location in Gallery Not on display
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