Christ as the Man of Sorrows
Christ as the Man of Sorrows
Christ as the Man of Sorrows
Christ as the Man of Sorrows
Christ as the Man of Sorrows
Christ as the Man of Sorrows

Lucas Cranach the Elder
1537

Material
Oil paint

Collection
Dom Museum Wien
On loan from the St. Roch Parish, Vienna

Inv.Nr.
L/60

Oil paint
Oil painting
Renaissance

On view

Query
Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Christ as the Man of Sorrows

The Man of Sorrows symbolizes both the suffering and the resurrected Christ. Lucas Cranachs's rendering of the topic shows many naturalistic details.

Widespread since medieval times, the “Man of Sorrows” or “Ecce homo” motif featured prominently in the sphere of popular piety. The direct eye contact with the suffering Jesus wearing a crown of thorns and showing his maltreated body, the crucifixion wounds, and the Passion instruments (scourge, birch rods) was aimed at directly touching the viewer emotionally. The devotional picture symbolizes both self-sacrifice and resurrection.

The present “Christ as the Man of Sorrows” is a painting by the great German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, as evidenced by the famous winged-dragon signature near the lower margin on the right. The painter’s workshop, whose members included his two sons, Hans and Lucas Cranach the Younger, produced numerous pictures with the “Ecce homo” motif. The artists were keen on varying certain details such as Christ’s hand posture or the image section. The work in Vienna shows a close view of the standing half figure of Christ set off against a dark background. He folds his hands in front of the center of his body, which focuses the viewer’s gaze on the deep side wound and his seriously injured left hand. The upper part of the body is spattered with blood and covered with rivulets of sweat. Jesus has the Passion instruments tucked under his right arm. Parts of his loin cloth are visible on his waist. The childlike angels with red and green wings make for an unusual variation of the subject. Emerging from clouds, they frame Christ’s head and, together with his shoulders, form a triangle in the upper part of the composition. The anatomically precise representation of the body and the subject’s facial expression emphasize the human nature of the portrayed.