Ecce Homo: Behold the Man

16., Felix





Ecce homo is Latin for “behold the man.” This declaration refers to the presentation of Christ by the Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, before the Jewish mob as described in John 19. Jesus, who had been falsely accused by the high priests and elders, was beaten, mockingly dressed as a king with both a crown of thorns and a purple robe, and then presented to the mob. “When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”


“But Pilate answered, ‘You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.’” Pilate, whether from fear or self-preservation, declared that although he found no basis for the death of Jesus, he would hand him over to be crucified.  The mid-century lithograph by a Hemlut Dietrich looks directly into the face of Jesus. Graphic lines obscure the face, reflecting the viewer’s inability to see the Savior of the World in such pain.


The earliest depictions of the Ecce Homo scene appear in the ninth and tenth centuries in the Syrian-Byzantine art. Many high-ranking Jewish officials attended the questioning of Jesus, but to remain ceremonially clean, they did not wish to enter the house of the Roman ruler. Therefore, historians believe Pilate had to bring Jesus outside of his house to present him to the crowd. The early Syrian-Byzantine artists often pictured Jesus, crowned in thorns and wearing a purple robe outside of Pilate’s palace. Bonfils’ photograph,  Ecce Homo, provides the physical setting on the Jerusalem street where this took place over 2000 years ago just inside the St. Stephen’s Gate.

Two pieces in this show by Jacques Callot and Cornelius Cort show Christ being presented by Pilate to the crowd of people in the street. Otto Dix’s Ecce Homo imagines the crowd seething with anger, pointing fingers and taunting Jesus.


In contrast to these early Christian artists who depicted the presentation in its entirety, many 15th century artists began to portray a wounded Jesus alone with a focus on the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Historians surmise that this image, although preceding the actual ecce homo scene, became almost a symbolic remembrance of the event. This idea developed around 1400 in Burgundy and then spread in popularity to Northern Europe.


In the tradition of their predecessors the 20th century French artists, Michel Ciry and Georges Rouault, portray Christ bare-chested with a robe slung over his shoulders. Christ was crowned with thorns and clothed with a purple robe in a defiant and hostile way.


Bruce Herman’s O Sacred Head shows the jarring and ironic coronation as almost too difficult to comprehend. Jesus accepts the crown, for he is the one true ultimate King and should rightfully be crowned, but this is a crown of thorns symbolizing that Jesus took on the sins of the world. He wears the purple robe and is clothed as royalty, but he also walked to Calvary with the bloody scourged back. The motif of the lone suffering Christ enables the viewer to identify personally with the events of the Passion.

This show contains:


  •  An essay on the show by Sandra Bowden and Sarah Colago
  • File to print a handout for visitors to your gallery
  • File with high-resolution images of all works in the show
  • File with text for labels
  • File for Introduction panels
  • Information on unpacking and repacking show
  • Information on shipping the exhibition


Cost of rental is $4o0 per month (4 weeks) plus shipping.


Bowden Collections offers a variety of traveling exhibitions available to museums, churches, colleges and seminaries: several feature the work of important historical artists such as Georges Rouault, Marc Chagall, Ottos Dix and Alfred Manessier; others explore topics related to the Bible. A packet containing everything needed to mount the exhibition with files for labels, itemized lists, a brochure or flyer in PDF format, high-resolution digital files of art in the exhibition, and shipping information is provided. Venues are responsible for the rental fee and shipping, usually to the following venue.



In this Exhibition


1. Ecce Homo

Helmut Stephan Diedrich (1937 -    )


Lithograph 81/100


14 1/8 x 10 1/8


2. Christ Shown to the People

Jacques Callot (1592 – 1635)


Etching, 1618

from The Passion, one of 7 prints
in the suite

4 1/4 x 8 ¼ in


3. Ecce Homo

Michele Ciry (1919 - )


Etching, 1950s

19 ½ x 9 in


4. Christ Reviled

Tyrus Clutter

United States, 2006

7 x 5 in


5. Head of Christ

Artist Unknown

Spanish/Bolivian (Holquin school)

Oil on panel, 1680 - 1820 ?

16 x 12 1/2 in


6. Ecce Homo

Cornelis Cort (1533 - 1578)


Etching and engraving, 1602

12 x 8 3/8 in


7. Ecce Homo

Marco Gerke


Linocut with collage


5 ½ x 4 ¾

8. Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)

Otto Dix  (1881 - 1969)


Lithograph, 1960

14 x 11 in


9. Ecce Homo

Hubertus Giebe (1953 - )


Lithograph, 1996

30 x 22 in


10. Ecce Homo

Ralph Hal

United States



18 3/8 x 13 ¼ in


11. O Sacred Head

Bruce Herman (1953 - )

United States



18 3/4 x 24 in


12. Christ

Odilon Redon  (1840 -1916)


Lithograph, 1887

13 x 10 5/8 in


13. Koph (Head of Christ)

Karl Schmidt-Rotluff (1884 – 1976)


Woodcut, 1918

5 x 3 ½ in


14. Ecce Homo

Unknown artist


Paper Lace, 1870

4 5/8 x 2 ¼ in

15. Man of Sorrows and Mater Dolorosa

Unknown artist


Woodcut, 1524

3 3/16 x 2 1/4 in


16. Ecce Homo

George Rouault (1871 – 1958)


Aquatint Montval laid paper, 1936

12 9/16  x 8 ¼  in


17. Ecce Homo

Felix Bonfils (1831 – 1885)


Black and White photograph, 1890

10 x 8 in


18. Ecce Homo

Guido Reni (1575-1642)




19. Most Loved One

Ioana Dactu

United States

Photo Painting


20. Ecce Homo

Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989)


Ink on paper



21. Ecce Homo Gesu

Unknown engraver after Fra Batholomeo



C 1800

5 x 3 ½


Ecce Homo/Behold the Man


Bowden Collections is proud to offer the traveling exhibition, Ecce Homo/Behold the Man with 21 images dating from the early 17th century to contemporary works. Among the artists included are Jacques Callot, Georges Rouault, Schmidt-Rotluff, Otto Dix, Odilon Redon, Bruce Herman, and Tyrus Clutter. This exhibition is organized to place the viewer at the scene where Jesus was condemned by the crowd as described in Matthew 27, “And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, ‘Let him be crucified.’”

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