Ecce Homo Prints

Some of the most beautiful prints that I have looked at were based on the story of Ecce Homo. This is the biblical story where Christ is shown, with a crown of thorn on his head, by Pontius Pilate to a crowd.

On Passover, one man was allowed to be released from prison. This was either Christ or Barabbas. The angry crowd chose Christ to be crucified, even though Barabbas was a murderer and a thief. This was seen as a public embarrassment to Christ since he was ridiculed and mocked at by a crowd, but he knew it had to happen.

Albrecht Durer, Ecce Homo (No. 8), 1512 [(Part of engraved Passion series)]


One print that I found of Ecce Homo was created by Albrecht Durer. This work was created on a copperplate and it was engraved. It is 116 by 74mm, and it is extremely detailed. This detail is very characteristic of the time period (Renaissance era). There is not a lot of information I could find on this print. However, there are a few things I would like to point out. On the bottom of the print, there is a symbol that looks like an D within an A. This symbol is Durer’s signature. Also, the man who is tied up, with the crown of thorns is Christ. He appears sad, especially since people were mocking him. The man next to him, with the proper, confident posture, is probably Pontius Pilate. The man underneath, that is presented lighter than Jesus and Pilate, might be one of the Roman guards (since he has weapons on him). In the back, there are empty crosses which foreshadows Jesus’s death, and shows the common punishment of that biblical time period.

Another Ecce Homo print is by Rembrandt, created in 1655. 


This work is a dry point (etching) that is on Japan paper. I remember reading about this print in an article for a Printmaking course. Rembrandt actually created a few plates for this, and some were extremely different. This is one of his first plates on this subject matter. This is where Christ is being shown to the people. Behind him is almost a luxurious building, and in front of him are the people who are saying that Jesus should be crucified. Some of this print is a little vague.


This is one of his later prints, about the 7th plate. Notice how much darker the print has become. Even though the first one I showed by Rembrandt isn’t that happy or exciting, it is much lighter than this one. The major difference with this print and the other is that the middle crowd is gone, and instead there’s a darker figure who seems to be coming from the ground. Also, there in a small cross behind Jesus’s head in this print, that wasn’t there in the first plate shown.


Here is the last print of the series. Notice also that the black figure that was popping out of the ground in the print before is vague (almost nonexistent) in this print. The scene overall goes back to being lighter, and shows more detailed individuals than the others. There is also a cross behind Jesus’s head in this print as well.

Lastly, I found a print of Ecce Homo by Lucas Cranach the Elder, created around 1509. 


Image from the MET

I actually did a paper on this print! Lucas Cranach was a printmaker, and artist, who did some Catholic and Protestant artwork (since he was born during the time of Martin Luther). As a result, this print has some mixture of both beliefs. In my paper, I pointed out that their were two boys in the crowd who are lead by a hooded figure, one of the them is trying to leave this scene, and the other is getting involved in the violence of humiliating Christ. The boy who is leaving shows the values of the Protestant religion. This being that children should understand and respect religion. While the other boy is wicked, and getting involved in crazy actions. This showing that his parents or superiors did not teach him the values of religion.

I also wanted to point out that the crowd in the middle is prosecuting Christ. The people on the top balcony in the back are his family and friends who believe that he should not be crucified. Additionally, one can see that Christ is filled with agony, and so is Pontius Pilate. He doesn’t seem to want this for Christ.

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