Ecce Homo

MAKER:
Artist

Giulio Cesare Procaccini ( Italian, 1574 - 1625 )

DATE:
c. 1615–1620
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General Description

Giulio Cesare Procaccini's Ecce Homo is a grandiose depiction of the flagellated Christ presented to the masses by Pontius Pilate, whose visage, at the upper left, is a study of disdainful indifference. The wildly dramatic gestures and faces of the other figures contrast starkly with the suffering Christ, restrained by ropes, his face bowed in gentle acceptance of his fate. Christ's nude body—contorted with a physically impossible but not inelegant torsion—is bathed in a golden light.

Consistent with the spiritually instructive goals of ecclesiastical art of the Counter-Reformation, everything in this painting is intended to heighten its emotional charge and to underline especially the contrast between the noble pathos of Christ's suffering and the crude reactions of the surrounding figures. The exaggerated gestures and the peculiar contrapposto are telling indications of the mannerist style, which also informs the compositional structure. There is no illusion of deeply receding space; instead a complex set of overlapping geometries function within a shallow plane. These aesthetic characteristics of the late Renaissance are imbedded in an atmosphere of dramatic emotionalism and expansive theatricality typical of the early baroque. Procaccini most likely executed this painting in Genoa, where, after closely studying works by the Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens, he transformed his style with a softer, lighter brushstroke. This painting belonged to the large and influential collection of the Genoese prince Giovanni Carlo Doria (1576-1625).

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Ecce Homo," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 151.

  • Dorothy Kosinski, "Ecce Homo", in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,_ _ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 78.

Fun Facts

  • The term ecce homo (behold the man) refers to the words found in John 19 verses 4-6 where Pilate, a Roman official, spoke when he presented Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd and asked which prisoner he should pardon, a custom before the feast of Passover. The crowd chooses to pardon Barrabas and crucify Jesus.

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