(b. 1431, Isola di Carturo, d. 1506, Mantova)
Ecce Homoc. 1500
Tempera on canvas, 54 x 42 cm
Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris
Between 1490 and 1506, the year he died, Mantegna painted several devotional paintings in which the main figures are represented as reliefs standing out against a mostly dark background. Inspired by reliefs on classical tombs, these figures are shown partially hidden behind stone balustrades or a frame. The most impressive of the paintings from Mantegna's final years include the Ecce Homo in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, and the St Sebastian in the Ca' d'Oro, Venice.
In the Ecce Homo, the portrayal of the flagellated Christ combines the timeless devotional image with a historic reference to a real event. The figure of Christ is displayed covered in weals from the flagellation, and with the crown of thorns on his head. Of the two men holding him, one is wearing a paper headband with an inscription in pseudo-Hebrew. Two other figures are barely visible in the background. The unfolded sheet of paper in the top corner bears the proclamation of the crucifixion.