Titian, Italian, c.1488-1576
Title: Ecce Homo
Date: 1558-1560
Medium: Oil on canvas
73.4 x 56 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1885
Object Number: NGI.75
DescriptionThe Ecce Homo is one of the most moving moments of Christ’s Passion. Having been repeatedly flagellated and ridiculed with a crown of thorns, Jesus is presented by Pilate for the verdict of the people. The image of Christ offered by Titian in this picture is particularly moving. The Saviour appears powerless, in tears, and his tortured body is covered in blood. It is an image of real physical suffering, but it is also one of great spirituality. The painting was carried out rapidly, with fast dabs of paint. This speed of execution is evident in a number of visible readjustments, such as the repositioning of the sceptre.

In the earlier part of his career Titian had collaborated with Giorgione in Venice. Soon, however, he was fully independent and was recognised as the most talented artist in that city. His fame led him to become the favourite painter of the leading italian families, as well as of Pope Paul III and of the Emperors Charles V and Philip II.

(National Gallery of Ireland: Essential Guide, 2016)

ProvenanceVan Dyck (?); purchased, Christie's, London, 21 May 1885, Sir William Knighton Sale, lot 520
Exhibition HistoryOld Masters, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1883

Italian Art from the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth Century, City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1955

Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Ireland, National Gallery, London, 1985

Master European Paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 6 June - 9 August 1992; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, 19 September - 6 December 1992; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 13 January - 28 March 1993; IBM Gallery, New York, 27 April - 26 June 1993

Renaissance Venice and the North: Bellini, Durer and Titian, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 5 September 1999 - 9 January 2000

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641): Ecce Homo and The Mocking of Christ, Princeton University Art Museum, 9 March - 9 June 2002; The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, The University of Birmingham, 25 October 2002 - 19 January 2003

Der Späte Tizian und die Sinnlichkeit der Malerei, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 17 October 2007 - 6 January 2008; Venezia Gallerie dell'Academia, Venice, 1 February - 21 April 2008

Revelation, The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 9 April - 28 September 2008

Renaissance in Venice: Painting in the Age of Titian, Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 13 February - 26 May 2019
Label TextThe Latin title of this painting translates as ‘Behold the man’ – the words spoken in derision by Roman governor Pontius Pilate when he presented Christ wearing a crown of thorns to a hostile crowd before the Crucifixion. This moving portrayal of physical suffering is typical of Titian's late style, when he painted rapidly, using loose brushstrokes. Titian adjusted the composition as he worked, changing the position of the reed and the rope around Christ’s wrists. These pentimenti (alterations) have become visible as the paint layer has gained transparency with age.

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