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Christ Crowned with Thorns
Probably by Pietro Perugino
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Christ is shown as a prisoner, a rope around his neck. He wears a crown of thorns and a purple robe, props made by his Roman captors to mock him: one of the charges against him was that he was claiming to be the ‘King of the Jews’. Dressed like this, he was brought before the citizens of Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, with the words, ‘Behold the Man!’ (John 19: 5). In Latin this is Ecce Homo, which became the title of this type of image.

Meditating upon the Passion (Christ’s torture and execution) was thought to bring believers closer to God, and images like this were visual aids intended to promote empathy for Christ’s physical suffering. The intensity of the image is achieved by the tight cropping around Christ’s torso, and the dark background which contrasts with his strongly illuminated face – visual devices usually reserved for portraits.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Pietro Perugino
Artist dates living 1469; died 1523
Full title Christ Crowned with Thorns
Date made about 1500-05
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 40.3 x 32.4 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lt.-General Sir William George Moore, 1862
Inventory number NG691
Location in Gallery Not on display
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