(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)

Christ before Pilate

Oil on canvas, 515 x 380 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice

Tintoretto decorated the walls of the Sala dell'Albergo by paintings showing important moments from the Passion of Christ and he finished them in the early months of 1567.

The most admired has always been Christ before Pilate. Perhaps while painting it Tintoretto partially kept in mind one of the wood-engravings by Albrecht Dürer, evidence of the lasting spell held by German graphics of the first half of the 16th century over the imagination of the protagonists of Venetian Mannerist interpretations. The dramatic staging of the scene is however completely original. In a very fine and measured luministic web the figure of Christ, wrapped in a white mantle, stands out like a shining blade against the crowd and the architectural scenery. He is centred by a bright ray of light and stands tall in front of the hypocritically bureaucratic judge that is Pilate who is portrayed in red robes and as if sunk in shadows. Certainly taking up the idea of Carpaccio in his St Ursula cycle, Tintoretto portraits the old secretary at the foot of Pilate's throne. He leans against a stool covered with dark green cloth and with great diligent enthusiasm notes down every moment, every word spoken by the judge amid the murmurings of the pitiless crowd which obstinately clamours for the death of Christ.

Remark to Hungarian visitors: the famous painting of Mihály Munkácsy depicting the same subject was undoubtedly and strongly influenced by the composition of this painting.