Ecce homo

Crivelli’s St. Catherine in the Ashmolean is now on the opposite wall, so it is no longer the first painting you see when you walk into the room, like the painting that reminded me of it at the Gulbenkian Museum. On the way across is a charming bust of John the Baptist as a child. Just beyond that first room hangs Tintoretto’s Ecce homo, depicting the scourged Christ before his crucifiction. Were it not for the title I’d have taken it instead for a depostion from the cross, so morbid is the flesh: man reduced to a hunk of meat. The massive, unnaturally pale body dominates the composition as a diagonal white slab, and it glows with a Platonic presence, embodying the contradiction of Christ’s human and divine natures that are about to meet at Golgatha.

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