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Jesus before Herod

Andrea Schiavoneca. 1558-62

Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Pontius Pilate has sent Jesus to be interrogated by King Herod prior to his crucifixion. Jesus says nothing, enduring Herod’s questions and mockery in silence. The narrative unfolds in a linear composition with large, static figures close to the viewer’s space. To convey the drama and violence of the event, the artist applies turbulent strokes of gold, red, and white paint against a black background.

Although less famous than his contemporary Venetian artists, Schiavone pioneered the rapid brushstroke that Titian and Tintoretto became celebrated for. A sixteenth-century source says that Titian was “stupefied” by the technique. The most common subject in Schiavone’s work is Christ Before Pilate. The Capodimonte painting is a final essay on this theme. In execution and psychological intensity, it is strikingly modern.

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