The J. Paul Getty Museum

Christ before Pilate

Object Details


Christ before Pilate


Masters of Dirc van Delf (Dutch, active about 1400 - about 1410)




Utrecht (probably), Netherlands (Place Created)


about 1405 - 1410


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 40 (90.ML.139), fol. 42v


Leaf: 16.5 × 11.7 cm (6 1/2 × 4 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

The miniatures in the book of hours by the Masters of Dirc van Delf dramatically present a sequence of events from Jesus' Passion, the events leading up to the Crucifixion. Within this context, the miniature of Christ before Pilate serves as a visual focus for the prayers that follow. Pilate, the Roman prefect in Jerusalem who presided at Jesus' trial and gave the order for his Crucifixion, sits on a throne. Jesus' sad but patient expression suggests his acceptance of his fate.

This confrontation between Pilate and Christ takes place within a shallow architectural setting much like a stage, with a flat, curtainlike, gold-patterned background behind. But the shallow space cannot contain the corporeal figures, who stand in front of the miniature's frame so that the figure of Jesus is presented both to Pilate and to the viewer. The solid weight of the figures and the frame contrasts with the delicacy of the fine sprays of leaves and flowers extending from the frame.

A Treasury of Fifteenth Century Manuscript Illumination (March 26 to June 16, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 26 to June 16, 2002