Christ Crowned with Thorns

Object Details


Christ Crowned with Thorns


Gerrit van Honthorst (Dutch, 1590 - 1656)




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 - 1831

Fieschi Family (Genoa, Italy)

about 1825 -

Cross 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.


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.

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

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

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