Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ecce Homo

Title: Ecce Homo
Artist: Domenico Feti
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 137 x 113 cm
Date: 1605
Location: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

John 19:4-11 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Often in this Gospel we see people who are mistaken about Jesus and his teaching because they are viewing reality solely in this-worldly categories, for example, the woman of Samaria (chap. 4). Jesus has used their misunderstandings to help these people come to a better view of reality, and that is what he now does with Pilate also: You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Pilate well understands that his power is dependent on the one who is over him, the emperor. He could understand Jesus to be saying nothing more than this. But now that Pilate realizes Jesus is claiming to be a son of God he has a chance to interpret Jesus correctly, to understand that God is the source of this power. Indeed, Jesus' reference to from above gives Pilate a hint as to the answer to his question of where Jesus is from. Thus this is a saying that tests Pilate's heart. Will he hear it correctly?

Domenico Fetti (also spelled Feti) (c. 1589 – 1623) was an Italian Baroque painter born in Rome. He studied under Ludovico Cigoli, was court painter to Vincenzo Gonzaga at Mantua from 1613 to 1622, and then settled in Venice. Working in the out-of-the-way location of Mantua allowed him to develop a highly original style of painting where a variety of different influences blended together. He trained during the last days of Mannerism, but he was influenced decisively by Rubens' arrival in Italy. His dialogue with Rubens and more generally his interest in Flemish and Dutch painting gave rise to a rich and luminous way with his brushstrokes. Feti, who was also an excellent portraitist, was one of a group of non-Venetian artists (including the German Liss and the Genoan Strozzi) who revivified painting in the city when there was a scarcity of native talent. Consequently, he is often classed as a member of the Venetian School, even though he spent only the last two years of his life there.

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