MENGS, Anton Raphael
(b. 1728, Aussig, d. 1779, Roma)

Ecce Homo

Oil on walnut panel, 57 x 44 cm
Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao

"Ecce Homo" ("Behold the man") were the words Pilate addressed to the Jews after Christ had been whipped by the soldiers. In this work Mengs depicts Jesus shortly after having been proclaimed the King of the Jews, wearing the crown of thorns and carrying a rod as a sceptre. The blood that is beginning to dry on his right shoulder reveals the marks of the whiplashes, although the artist has preferred to focus on the psychological condition of Christ rather than on the dramatic quality of the scene. Tired and humiliated, the figure shows signs of deep suffering. Conceived as a pious image, this picture invites pity by presenting Jesus Christ as a human being, despite the characteristic idealised distance of Neoclassicism.

Mengs probably depicted this Ecce Homo towards the end of his life, after returning to Rome in 1777.