(b. 1470/80, Würzburg, d. 1528, Halle)

The Mocking of Christ

Oil on pine panel, 109 x 73,5 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Grünewald's earliest datable work is the Mocking of Christ, a colourful, vehemently expressive painting demonstrating his ability to create dazzling light effects. The painting depicts Christ blindfolded and being beaten by a band of grotesque men. The figures are thick-bodied, soft, and fleshy, done in a manner suggestive of the Italian High Renaissance. Elements of the work also show Grünewald's assimilation of Dürer, specifically his Apocalypse series. Different from High Renaissance idealism and humanism, however, are Grünewald's uses of figural distortion to portray violence and tragedy, thin fluttering drapery, highly contrasting areas of light and shadow, and unusually stark and iridescent colour. It is these elements, already in evidence in this early work, that Grünewald was to develop into the masterful, individualistic style most fully realized in his Isenheim Altarpiece.