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Audio Guide - Adult

Ecce Homo, ca. 1612

Artist: Bartolomeo Manfredi, Italian, 1582 - ca. 1621

Medium: Oil on canvas

Painting: 44 x 60 in. (111.8 x 152.4 cm)
Frame: 55 1/2 x 68 x 3 in. (141 x 172.7 x 7.6 cm)

Credit Line: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art purchase

Object Number: 89.12

On View

N. Parisani Collection, Rome, Italy, ca. 1922; Antique Market, Milan, Italy, ca. 1976; Private Collection, London, England, 1981; Matthieson Fine Art, Ltd., London, England, 1989

The young Manfredi learned his craft in Cremona, Brescia and Milan. He arrived in Rome between 1600 and 1606 and came into contact with one of the most renowned artists of the time, Caravaggio. Considered an extremely important member of the Caravaggisti, or followers of Caravaggio, Manfredi employed

the master's stark contrast of light and dark and intense human emotion.


Ecce Homo, meaning “Behold the Man,” depicts four half-length figures, a compositional structure Manfredi may have learned in Northern Italy from such artists as Mantegna and Bellini.  Central to the image is the captive Christ, placedagainst the blood red of his cape (a symbol of his impending fate), a turbaned Pontius Pilate, and two flanking soldiers.  The painted ledge, extending halfway from the left, is a reference to the slab on which the dead Christ will be laid out and which, after his death, will become a symbol of his sacrifice, the altar itself. This seemingly insignificant element forms a point of transition between the space of the viewer and that of the painting, thus making the beholder's involvement in the tragic scene all the more compelling.