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Ecce Homo
Attributed to Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
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Attributed to Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)

Pieve di Cadore, Belluno, Veneto (Italy), 1490 - Venice (Italy), 1576

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) See author's file

Ecce Homo

1565 - 1570. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

This painting depicts a passage from the Gospel of Saint John (19, 4-5) which recounts how after Christ had been whipped and crowned with thorns: Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them: Behold the man!. Titian had already represented this subject in 1543 in a large-format painting (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum) in which the scene is set before an impressive architectural backdrop filled with figures. Here, however, he returned to the format of halflenght figures which he had practically abandoned since 1520, the result being a much simpler composition with only four figures. Pilate, who Titian represented in the 1543 painting with the features of Aretino and in all´antica dress, here wears costly contemporary dress and holds up the palm of his left hand to the viewer, symbolising his desire to be absolved of the decision. His gesture, the jewel in the centre of his turban and the composition in general, all recall an Ecce Homo by Quentin Massys (Venice, Musei Civici Veneziani, Palazzo Ducale, inv. 376), which came to Venice in the sixteenth century, probably brought by Cardinal Grimani. From the 1543 version, Titian only retained the Phrygian cap of the executioner on the left.

This Ecce Homo has received scant scholarly attention. When it entered the Museo del Prado in 1837, the then director Pedro de Madrazo believed it to be an early work by Jacopo Bassano imitating Titian, an opinion maintained by Berenson a century later. Crowe and Cavalcaselle were the first to identify Titian´s hand, particularly in the face and hands of Christ, and referred to a replica by Francesco Vecellio in Dresden [inv. 239]. The restoration and technical analyses carried out recently have allowed us a clearer understanding of the work. X-radiographs show that Titian reused a canvas with a portrait, but more importantly that this work features significant changes, particularly the executioner seen from behind, who was originally shown in profile. There are also changes to the window which was initially circular and without a grille, the rod which originally pointed in the opposite direction, and Christ´s fingers, all changes visible to the naked eye. In fact these changes did not improve the composition, which was initially less crowded and was arranged around a diagonal that crossed the canvas from left to right, emphasised by the light coming from the window, and which culminated in the exchange of gazes between Christ and the executioner in profile who were the only two figures. The final version loses its dramtic effectiveness when the exchange of glances was omitted and new figures were added who were not related to each other. Aside from the composition, the painting is also unequal in quality and indicates the presence of a number of different hands. The figure of Christ, copied exactly from Bertelli´s print, is the best passage, evident in the careful modelling and the delicate flesh tones.

The painting was in the Escorial, whose Libro de entregas records in April 1574 two works by Titian on this subject: an Ecce Homo on canvas, with Pilate and an executioner, by Titian; which measures three-and-a-half feet high and three wide (97.51 x 83.58 cm), and an Ecce Homo with an executioner; which measures 3 feet high and 5 wide, and which is by Titian (83.58 x 139.3 cm). While the present work is usually identified with the first of these (the second is probably the Ecce Homo with Pilate by the studio of Titian in the Escorial), the difference in size seems insurmountable. Bassegoda has recently identified it with the Ecce Homo which was hanging in the Aulilla after the remodelling of the monastery in the mid-seventeenth century. This was the work which, according to the apocryphal Memoria of Velázquez, the Count of Monterrey delivered to Philip IV: Another by the hand of Titian: Christ shown by Pilate to the people, surrounded by numerous executioners, all life-size. It is more than 4 feet high, and 3 and a half wide (III. 44 x 97.51 cm). The inferior quality of the painting compared to any other sent to Philip II reinforces the idea that it entered the royal collection in the mid-seventeenth century.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, Tiziano, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2003, p.296


Technical data

Inventory number
Attributed to Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)
Ecce Homo
1565 - 1570
Height: 100.5 cm; Width: 100.8 cm
Royal Collection (Real Monasterio de El Escorial, Madrid, Sala Prioral)

Bibliography +

Beroqui, Pedro, Tiziano en el Museo del Prado, Boletín de la Sociedad española de excursiones, 35, 1927, pp. 191.

Mayer, A. L., An unknown Ecce Homo by Titian, The Burlington magazine, The Burlington Magazine Publication, 1935.

Suida, W, Le Titien, Weber, Paris, 1935, pp. 271.

Beroqui, P, Tiziano en el Museo del Prado, Hauser y Menet, Madrid, 1946, pp. 164.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de los cuadros, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1952, pp. 649.

Cagli, Corrado, La obra pictórica completa de Tiziano, Noguer, Barcelona Madrid, 1971.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 709-710.

Brown, Jonathan, Velázquez: pintor y cortesano, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1986, pp. 236 Lám. 281.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. 131.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, Catálogo de las colecciones históricas de pintura veneciana, Editorial Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1991, pp. 113.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 275, n. 57.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, De Tiziano a Bassano. Maestros Venecianos del Museo de Prado, Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 1997, pp. 144-147.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, Tiziano, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2003, pp. 296.

Ruíz Manero, J. M., Los Bassano en España, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2011, pp. 387, n.13NB [No Bassano] ; il.LXIX.

Martínez Leiva, Gloria; Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel, El inventario del Alcázar de Madrid de 1666. Felipe IV y su colección artística, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 2015, pp. 380 nº 410.

¡Hola Prado!: Two Collections in Dialogue, Michael Imhof Verlag,, 2017, pp. 32-3 n.3.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 435.
Tiziano. / 435. Jesucristo presentado al pueblo. (E.) / Alto 3 pies, 7 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 7 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 435.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 48.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed. Frame, back, upper bar

Inscribed in red color. Frame, back, upper bar

Cat. 42/ Tiziano Vecellio y taller/ (Hacia 1485/90-1576)/ Ecce Homo
Wood nameplate. Frame, front, lower bar

Numero 435./ Un Hecce-homo de medio/ cuerpo procedente del Rl./ Sitio del Escorial.
Handwritten label in black ink. Stretcher

SIT. expo, pintura veneciana S. XVI.
Scrap of paper. Frame, back, upper bar

Un Ecce- homo de medio cuerpo / cuadro procedente/ de la Rl. Casa de Sn Lorenzo/ estubo colocado en la Sala Prioral al / no9/ pintado por Ticiano.
Scrap of paper. Stretcher

M.N.PRADO / 00042
On metallic tablet. Stretcher

M.N.PRADO / M00135
Inscribed in golden colour. Frame, back, lower bar

nº 42
Scrap of paper. Stretcher

nº 42
Scrap of paper. Frame, back, upper bar

Semioculto por la etiqueta de exposición. 68[¿?]
Inscribed. Frame, back, upper bar

Exhibitions +

¡Hola Prado! Two Collections in Dialogue
08.04.2017 - 20.08.2017

10.06.2003 - 07.09.2003

Pintura veneciana del siglo XVI de las colecciones del Museo del Prado
04.12.1997 - 08.02.1998

Update date: 03-09-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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