The J. Paul Getty Museum

Bust of Christ

Object Details


Bust of Christ






Montelupo, Italy (Place Created)


about 1500


Tin-glazed earthenware

Object Number:



60.3 × 59.7 × 26 cm (23 3/4 × 23 1/2 × 10 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

When he presented Jesus to the Jews demanding his Crucifixion, Pontius Pilate cried Ecce homo(Behold the man). The words Ecce Homohave come to signify a type of devotional image that depicts Jesus after the scourging, crowned with a wreath of thorns, and with his face typically gaunt and drawn as he goes to his death. In this bust figure of tin-glazed earthenware, Jesus looks down with a noble expression from beneath heavy lids. His faced is framed by a mass of corkscrew curls. The presentation of Jesus in bust format viewed at eye level recalls the intense, close focus captured in devotional paintings, common in the 1400s, that were made for both churches and private chapels. The crown has holes to hold real thorns, heightening the realism of the depiction.

A sculptor from Tuscany and a ceramic artist who did the glazing and firing probably collaborated on this piece. The shiny glazes and palette of vivid yellow, green, and blue are typical of ceramics from Faenza.

- 1987

Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, April 7, 1987, lot 44, to Rainer Zietz Limited.]


Rainer Zietz Limited, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.


Burlington Magazine 129 (March 1987), ill. p. 1.

Il giornale dell'arte, no. 45 (1987), p. 90, fig. 50.

"Acquisitions/1987." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), p. 180, no. 77.

Hess, Catherine. Italian Maiolica: Catalogue of the Collections (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), pp. 52-54, no. 16.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 67, ill.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 179-80, no. 356.

Hess, Catherine. Italian Ceramics: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 96-103, no. 17.

Warren, Jeremy, and Jon Whiteley. Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Vol. 2, Sculptures in Stone, Clay, Ivory, Bone and Wood (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2014), p. 438, under no. 117.