Gerard van Honthorst, The Mocking of Christ, c. 1617, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

By Alte Pinakothek, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Alte Pinakothek, Bavarian State Painting Collections

The Mocking of Christ The Mocking of ChristLos Angeles County Museum of Art

Mocking of Christ

The Crowning with Thorns and the Mocking of Christ were frequently depicted themes during Caravaggio’s lifetime and his successors’. Gerard van Honthorst's "Mocking of Christ" brings the two motifs together in a, for him, typical night scene. The light of the torch in the centre of the picture illuminates the body of the suffering Christ and also makes the mockingly laughing faces of his tormentors visible. Through dramatic dark staging and realistic depictions of candles and torches, Honthorst helped to establish his Italian nickname "Gherardo delle Notti" (Gerard of the Night Scenes).

In the “Mocking of Christ”, Gerard van Honthorst pays special attention to the mockers.

The torchlight illuminates their faces, distorted and reddened by ugly grin, ...

... revealing their damaged teeth.

One of the mockers tries to protect himself with his hand from the bright light of the torch and the shining reflection of Christ's body.

The face of the man behind him is bathed in a warm red light. Honthorst symbolically dresses him in a fool’s costume.

In contrast to the foolish activity of the mockers, Christ humbly bears his humiliation. His exposed body, like his face, is brightly lit by the torch.

This dramatic portrayal was a means to an end: it helped the faithful viewer to empathize the suffering of Christ more intensely.

Credits: Story

The contents were created in connection with the exhibition "Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe" at the Alte Pinakothek München. Click here to discover the world of the Caravaggisti.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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