(b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)

The Crowning with Thorns

c. 1605
Oil on canvas, 178 x 125 cm
Banca Popolare di Vicenza, Vicenza

This picture creates a different kind of drama than the Crowning with Thorns in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The vertical format allows us to concentrate on Christ, who occupies the centre of the picture. The figure of a man, naked from the waist up, sitting on a chair in front of a barrier in the foreground, holding the rope with which Christ's hands are bound, leads the eye towards him. A second man in a brilliant red robe is almost gently gripping the victim by his upper body and upper left arm. A third assistant is pressing the crown down so hard on to Christ's head with his stick that a drop of blood is running down his temple.

The version in Vienna is the earlier, its attribution to Caravaggio is disputed. The attribution of the present, later version is also debated. Formerly it was considered to be a copy after a lost Caravaggio painting, now it is thought that the figure of Christ is by Caravaggio himself, the three assailants on both sides of Christ are by studio assistants.