Christ Crowned with Thorns

Object Details


Christ Crowned with Thorns


Gerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1590 - 1656)




Netherlands (Place created)


about 1620


Oil on canvas


222.3 x 173.5 cm (87 1/2 x 68 5/16 in.)

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As was customary for promising Dutch painters in the 1600s, Gerrit van Honthorst traveled to Italy to complete his artistic training. In Rome he fell under the spell of Caravaggio's revolutionary style and adopted his use of realistic figures and dramatic lighting, known as chiaroscuro. In Italy he acquired the nickname Gherardo delle Notti (Gerrit of the Nights) because he painted so many night scenes lit by candles or torches.

This recently discovered painting may have been made as an altarpiece. It shows the Crowning with Thorns, one of the last of the series of events comprising the trial of Christ. His crude features illuminated by a torch, a jeering soldier mocks Christ, who humbly accepts the soldier's derision. In the shadows, another soldier places the crown of thorns on Christ's head, using a cane to protect his own hands. At the left, two dimly lit figures, perhaps Pontius Pilate and an advisor, discuss Christ's fate.

18th century - 1829

Fieschi Family (Genoa, Italy)

after 1829-

Crosa Family (Genoa, Italy)

Private Collection (Zürich, Switzerland)

Private Collection (West Germany)

- 1990

Mizrahi Kunst und Antiquitäten, Inc. (Zürich, Switzerland), sold through Herman Shickman Gallery (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1990.


"Acquisitions/1990." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 19 (1991) p. 146, no. 27.

Judson, J. Richard. "A New Gerrit van Honthorst: 'Christ Crowned with Thorns.'" Nationalmuseum Bulletin 17, no. 2 (1993) pp. 43-48, fig. 1.

Brejon de Lavergnée, Arnauld. "Le Caravagisme en Europe: à propos de la réédition du Nicolson." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 122 (November 1993) p. 211, fig. 1227.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995) unpaginated, no. 20, ill., entry by Dawson Carr.

Reviriego, Bernard. Le Christ aux outrages de Chancelade (Périgueux: Editeur Marie de Chancelade, 1997) pp. 30, 42-43, 46-47, 49, 51, 52, 53, fig. 6.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 61, ill.

Cuzin, Jean-Pierre, and Dimitri Salmon. Georges de la Tour: Histoire d'une redécouverte (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1997) p. 58., ill.

Papi, Gianni. Gherardo delle Notti: Gerrit Honthorst in Italia (Soncino: 1999) pp. 22, 23, 123-25, 169, no. 1, ill.

Judson, J. Richard, and R.E.O. Ekkart. Gerrit van Honthorst, 1592-1656. (Doornspijk: Davaco Publishers, 1999) pp. 10, 83-85, 87, 349-350, 351, no. 59, figs. 24, 24a-c.

Lyons, Lisa. Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000) pp. 44-45, ill.

Slatkes, Leonard J. "An Ineffable Light and Splendour: Nocturnes, Night Scenes and Artificial Illumination." In The Genius of Rome 1592-1623, exh. cat. Beverly Louise Brown, ed. (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2001) p. 318, under no. 118.

Franzone, Marco, and Roberto Santamaria. Sotto il segno del gatto: la collezione Fieschi (Genoa: LOG, 2004), pp. 48-49. pp. 48-49.

Bikker, Jonathan, Yvette Bruijnen, and Gerdien Wuestman, eds. Dutch paintings of the seventeenth century in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Volume I: Artists born between 1570 and 1600 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, 2007) pp. 204n7, 217 under nos. 134, 149, fig. 149a.

Marandel, J. Patrice, ed. Caravaggio and His Legacy, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with DelMonico Books/Prestel, 2012) p. 118, under no. 39.

Education Resources

Education Resource




Looking and Learning (6-12) Lesson 1

Secondary students prepare for a museum visit by researching a work of art and speculating about the museum's motivation for collecting it.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts

6-8; 9-12

Two-Part Lesson

Looking and Learning (6-12) Lesson 2

Secondary students view an original work of art in a museum and interpret it using formal analysis and research done for homework.

Visual Arts

6-8; 9-12

Short Activity

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