DYCK, Sir Anthony van
(b. 1599, Antwerpen, d. 1641, London)

Crowning with Thorns

Oil on canvas, 223 x 196 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

The contrast between the serenity of Christ and the villainy of his captors is vigorously conveyed in this early work by Van Dyck. The composition, as so often, is based on a prototype by Titian, of whom Van Dyck was a passionate admirer. But the influence of Rubens is also crucial, and the presentation is typically baroque: the viewer is forced into the role of a close but helpless witness of the violence enacted. The effect is reinforced by Van Dyck's textures - for instance the exposed and brilliant chest of Christ against the gleaming precision of the axe above or the fluid musculature of the tormentor beside it.