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.