Ecce Homo, below, is described as Milanese, from the 1490's and it was completed with oil on board. Why didn't the artist sign or mark his painting? It is a thoughtful, refined work and worthy of recognition.
Given the subject, perhaps he aspired to anonymity based on humility. Maybe he (most time painters were male) was youthfully indifferent. Was there something more to complete on this painting, but then, the effort was cut short due to invasion (perceived or real), fear of death or death itself?
History is silent.
In this portrayal, Jesus is clothed in a royal looking tunic with golden embroidery, an honor the artist chose to bestow on Christ and not an "out of the ordinary" design for this art period. We also know that Jesus had a seamless tunic and it was among the items that the soldiers cast lots to obtain after his death:
"When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,” in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]:'They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots'. This is what the soldiers did" (JN: 19:23-4).
The draped robe or cloak that the soldiers threw over Jesus is often painted in red or scarlet. Red symbolizes sacrifice and the color of the blood of redemption. "Instead of a lamb, Jesus shed His blood for the world". Traditionally it is also one of the colors signifying royalty or status. But, you will also find images of Christ depicted with a purple robe which is another royal or imperial color.
Whereas Matthew says that the soldiers “put a scarlet robe” on Jesus (27:27-28), Mark says that “they clothed Him with purple ” (15:16-17), and John states that the soldiers put “a purple robe” on Him (19:1-2).
So, what was the actual color of Jesus' robe? Was the red darker? More violet or purple? This is something scholars discuss. One explanation given is that just like others of their day, the Gospel writers simply used the terms scarlet and purple interchangeably. Another source explains that "Purple and scarlet were worn by officials of various kinds of a Roman officials. Purple for government officials and scarlet for Roman military officers. It could have been either one. The Gospel writers differ merely because it is not clear whose robe was used--a Roman government official's or a Roman officer's. In any case, it hardly matters which color it was--the important point is that the soldiers mocked him using such a cloak."
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Christi Marie (CM) Jentz
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