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Probably by Sodoma, Head of Christ

Key facts
Full title Head of Christ
Artist Probably by Sodoma
Artist dates 1477 - 1549
Date made probably about 1525-50
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 38.7 × 31.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1891
Inventory number NG1337
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Head of Christ
Probably by Sodoma

After being condemned to death by Pontius Pilate, Christ was taken away by soldiers, crowned with thorns and called ‘King of the Jews’ (Matthew 27: 26–31). Although all the Gospels describe how Christ was led away to be crucified, only John tells us that he carried his own cross (John 19: 16–17).

Blood drips down Christ’s forehead, which is pierced by the thorns with which he has been crowned, as he carries his cross to Calvary to be crucified. We are placed in the position of an onlooker in the crowd as he passes by. The drama, pathos and intimacy of the moment is heightened by the very close focus on Christ’s face and the extremes of light and dark.

The painting does not seem to have been cut and was probably always intended to be this size. It is therefore probably not a fragment of a larger picture but an independent devotional work.

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