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The Mocking of Christ

Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion

The Mocking of Christ

Artist: Hendrick ter Brugghen and Workshop (Dutch, 1588–1629)
Culture: Dutch
Date: c. 1625
Medium: Oil on canvas
Frame: 48 x 58 1/2 inches (121.9 x 148.6 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Marina Rust Connor, A.B.’87
Label Text:This painting depicts the mocking of Christ by two soldiers as they crown Him with thorns before the Crucifixion. Ter Brugghen combined details mentioned in the Gospels—such as the kneeling soldier irreverently offering Jesus a reed in place of a scepter—with the traditional medieval iconography of a standing soldier using a staff to press the crown onto Christ’s head. An earlier woodcut from Albrecht Dürer's series The Small Passion also features a soldier taunting Jesus by sticking out his tongue.

Ter Brugghen belonged to a group of artists known as the Utrecht Caravaggisti who were active in the Netherlands province of Utrecht in the 1620s. After traveling to Rome in the early 1600s and seeing the work of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), this group adopted his use of live models for sacred figures and his technique of creating sharp contrasts between light and dark, called tenebrism. Here, ter Brugghen painted the scene with an intense focus on a few figures that are shown as approximately life-size.

Provenance: L.T. Sands, until 1965; purchased February 7, 1965 by (Agnew's, London); purchased June 16, 1967 by David E. Rust, Washington, D.C.; by inheritance 2011 to Marina Rust Conner, New York; by gift 2018 to Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Object number: 2018.26.1