Nicolaes Maes

Mocking of Christ

Mocking of Christ
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Nicolaes Maes
Painting, Oil on canvas, 190.5x119.5 cm
Origin: Holland, 1650s

All four Evangelists tell the story of the mocking of Christ before the Crucifixion . Here Maes, one of Rembrandt's most talented pupils, seeks to convey the deep meaning behind the events described in the Bible.

Christ has already suffered much humiliation - we see the broken sticks on the ground with which he has been beaten; on the head of "the King of the Jews" is the crown of thorns; one of the torturers is placing a "sceptre" - in fact a mere stick - in Christ's hand. On Christ's face we see a mixture of grief, acceptance and inexpressible sorrow for all sinners. Maes treats the image of Christ in a way reminiscent of Rembrandt, as a man of earthly flesh and blood, a man who has undergone terrible suffering, but a man who laments not for himself but for others, and forgives them their trespasses.

The legionnaires are treated in a far from traditional manner, for two of them look tensely into the face of Christ, brought to a halt by his calm and his pain. Their clothing is somewhat theatrical and only the helmet truly recalls the attire of a Roman soldier.

The figures are shown almost full size, which reinforces the significance of the scene and gives it a sense of greater reality. Maes picks out amidst the gloomy olive-green colouring the red of the mantle in which Jesus was attired during his appearance before Pilate, reinforcing Christ's central role, affirming the existence of the Truth and of Christ's immortality.

Personage: Christ
Source of entry: via the State Museum Fund from the collection of Countess L. A. Musina-Pushkina, 1919
Theme: The Bible and Christianity
Exibition: Dutch art: 17th century

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