The Mocking of Christ

Gerard van Honthorst, ca. 1617
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

Gerard van Honthorst was considered one of the Dutch Republic’s greatest painters during his lifetime. The Mocking of Christ is an important example of his early career in Italy, when he was most inspired by the naturalism and chiaroscuro of Caravaggio. Honthorst contrasts the humbly forward-leaning, exposed body, which stoically endures pain and humiliation, with the foolish conduct of the tormentors. He shows great skill in rendering the play of light and shade, most evident in the wrinkles of their skin, as well as the folds of their garments. A recurring feature in Honthorst’s work is the face shaded by a raised hand, illustrated here by one of the mockers trying to shield himself from the bright torchlight. Drawing upon pictorial traditions from the Netherlands and adopting Caravaggesque prototypes, Honthorst was the first to introduce artificial light sources to illuminate his scenes, which later earned him the nickname ‘Gherardo delle notti’ (Gerard of the Nights).

Bernd Ebert, Head of Dutch and German Baroque Painting, Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Explore more

Loud Derision and Silent Suffering - The Mocking of Christ

Virtual tour through the painting

View on Google Arts & Culture