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Rembrandt, Ecce Homo

Key facts
Full title Ecce Homo
Artist Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Date made 1634
Medium and support Oil on paper mounted onto canvas
Dimensions 54.5 × 44.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1894
Inventory number NG1400
Location Room 22
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Ecce Homo

‘Ecce Homo’, the Latin title of this painting, is taken from the Bible, and means ‘Behold the man!’ These were the words of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, when he was sitting as the judge during the trial of Christ. Pilate, here shown wearing a turban and rising to his feet, is presenting Christ to the crowd. The picture evokes the fevered atmosphere of this show trial and is dominated by images of earthly power and authority. Christ stands slightly higher than his captors – he’s the only figure looking upwards towards the ’true' judge, God.

This small black and white painting (known as a grisaille) was not made for sale. It is a full-scale preparatory study for one of Rembrandt’s etchings – the only known example of such a work. Rembrandt was a prolific print maker and his studio produced hundreds of images for sale. This was one of his most popular.

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