Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meditation on the Passion – The Ecce Homo

Maarten van Heemskerck, Ecce Homo
Central panel of triptych
Dutch, 1559-1560
Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum

"Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!"
(John 1:4-5)
 Excerpt from the Passion of Jesus Christ According to John

In the Latin Vulgate the final sentence in the excerpt from John, above, reads “Et dicit eis, “Ecce homo!” It is from these final words that another type of image, which meditates on the Passion of Christ, takes its name. This is the image known as “Ecce Homo”, which occurs in at least two variations.

The first, and most obvious, is an image that describes the Gospel event. Jesus and Pilate appear together, frequently on a balcony or terrace, in front of a group or crowd of people. Jesus wears the crown of thorns and a red cloak (not usually a purple one). Sometimes He is shown with a reed that appears to have been thrust into his manacled hands, so that one cannot say that He is actually holding it. He often appears highly bloodied from the scourging.

This image should be distinguished from the Man of Sorrows image, to which it has some resemblance and with which it is frequently confused, even bey artists.  Although some Ecce Homo images are devotional, most are narrative.  The Jesus depicted in them is still very much alive.  Images of the Man of Sorrows are always devotional and the Jesus depicted in them is, with very few early exceptions, is always dead.

Examples of this type abound, especially in Northern Europe.   Among them are:

Rambures Master, Ecce Homo
From a Book of Hours
French, c. 1455-1465
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 194, fol. 143r

Guillaume Hugueniot, Ecce Homo
From a Book of Hours
Flemish, 1460-1475
New York, Morgan Library
MS G 55, fol. 35r

Hieronymous Bosch, Ecce Homo
Dutch, c. 1475-1480
Frankfurt, Städtelsches Kunstinstitut

Jean Colombe and Workshop, Ecce Homo
From a Book of Hours
French (Bourges), c. 1475-1485
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 330, fol. 39r

Master of the Dark Eyes, Ecce Homo
From a Book of Hours
Dutch, c.1490
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 76 G 9, fol.62v

Benedetto di Silvestro, Ecce Homo
From Vita Christi
Italian, c. 1500-1550
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 508, fol. 28r
Ecce Homo
From a Book of Hours
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1500-1510
New York, Pierpont Morgan Libary
MS M 166, fol. 34v
Ecce Homo
From the Ottheinrich-Bibel
German (Regensburg), 16th Century
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
MS BSB Cgm 8010 (5), fol. 139r

Hans Holbein the Elder, Ecce Homo
German, 1502
Munich,  Bayerisches Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek

Master of James IV of Scotland, Ecce Homo
From the Spinola Hours
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1510-1520
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ludwig IX 18, fol. 136

Jan Joest von Kalkar, Ecce Homo
Dutch, 1508
Kalkar, Catholic Parish of St. Nicholas
Adriaen van Overbeke, Ecce Homo
Flemish, c. 1510-1529
Private Collection

Quentin Massys, Ecce Homo
Flemish, c. 1518-1520
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado
Simon Bening, Ecce Homo
From the Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht  of Brandenburg
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1525-30
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS Ludwig IX 19, fol. 164v

Titian, Ecce Homo
Italian, 1543
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Tintoretto, Ecce Homo
Italian, c. 1566-1567
Venice, Scuola Grande di San Rocco
This image is somewhat unusual in that it presents a Jesus who is too weak to stand.  
Adriaen van der Werff, Ecce Homo
Dutch, 1698
Munich, Bayerisches Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek

James Tissot, Ecce Homo
French, 1886-1894
New York, Brooklyn Museum
Antonio Ciseri, Ecce Homo
Italian, 1891
Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Galleria dell'Arte Moderna
By the end of the nineteenth century this type of image had become highly archaeological in tone.

Another type is more intimate. It shows a usually half-length Christ surrounded by mocking faces placed closer in the visual plane to us. Pilate may or may not be there.
Jean Pichore, Ecce Homo
From The Poncher Hours
French (Paris), c. 1500
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum
MS 109, fol. 194
Andrea Mantegna, Ecce Homo
Italian, c. 1500
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-Andre
Bernardino Luini, Ecce Homo
Italian, c. 1515-1516
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum and Foundation Corbaud

After Correggio, Ecce Homo
Italian, c. 1525-1530
London, National Gallery

Quentin Massys, Ecce Homo
Flemish, 1526
Venice, Palazzo Ducale

Hans Hoffmann, Ecce Homo
German, c. 1580
Private Collection

Caravaggio, Ecce Homo
Italian, c. 1606
Genoa, Galleria di Palazzo Bianco

Il Cigoli (Lodovico Cardi), Ecce Homo
Italian, 1607
Florence, Pitti Palace
Anthony van Dyck, Ecce Homo
Flemish, c. 1625-1626
Birmingham (UK), Barber Institute of Fine Arts

This second group of images places us in the position of the crowd howling "Crucify Him!" and invites us to consider the causes and effects of the Passion, which are our own sins and weaknesses.

© M. Duffy, 2012

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