Ecce Homo
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Italian, Faenza or Florence, about 1500
Tin-glazed earthenware
H: 23 3/4 x W: 23 1/2 x D: 10 1/4 in.

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When he presented Jesus to the Jews demanding his Crucifixion, Pontius Pilate cried Ecce homo (Behold the man). The words Ecce Homo have 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.