Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns)

Hieronymus Boschabout 1510

The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London
London, United Kingdom

Four torturers surround Christ, pressing towards him, while he looks out at us. Bosch's picture emphasises the contrast between the brutality of the tormentors and the mild, suffering Christ. Its emotional intensity is achieved in a variety of ways. The half-length figures create a sense of proximity, and the lack of recession in the painting makes it appear very claustrophobic. From the centre of the picture Christ seems to appeal to us to share in his suffering.

The characterisations here are not just grotesque, but reflect specific ideas. Christ's torturers were often referred to as savage beasts, which may explain why the man at the top right appears to wear a spiked dog collar. The figure at the lower left has a crescent moon of Islam and yellow star of the Jews on his head-dress, which mark him as an opponent of Christianity.


  • Title: Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns)
  • Creator: Hieronymus Bosch
  • Date Created: about 1510
  • Physical Dimensions: 73.8 × 59 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on oak
  • School: Netherlandish
  • More Info: Explore the National Gallery’s paintings online
  • Inventory number: NG4744
  • Artist Dates: living 1474; died 1516
  • Artist Biography: Hieronymus Bosch was born in the town of 's Hertogenbosch near Antwerp, from which he took his name. He was the son of a painter. He is famous for the fantastic and disturbing detail of his panel pictures. In his mature works Bosch developed an original and often macabre language of visual symbolism, sometimes a literal translation of verbal metaphors found in the Bible. Bosch appears to have spent the majority of his life in 's Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc), although his family probably came from Aachen in Germany. His chronology is uncertain, but the Gallery's 'Christ Mocked' is probably an early work, one of many representing episodes of the Passion of Christ. Bosch's most famous work is perhaps 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' at the Prado, Madrid. In the 17th century Van Mander wrote 'Who will be able to tell of all the weird and strange ideas which were in the mind of Jeronimus Bos, and his expressions of them by his brush? He painted gruesome Pictures.' Bosch's work particularly influenced Bruegel in the 16th century. His paintings were collected by Philip II of Spain, and in the 20th century were cited by the Surrealists as precursors of their own visions.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1934

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