Left panel: Jan van Drenckwaerdt and Saint John the Evangelist
Center panel: Ecce Homo
Right panel: Margaretha de Jonge van Baertwyck and Saint Margaret of Antioch
Frame by unknown craftsmen, about 1544; oak with gilt gesso and some later additions
Maerten van Heemskerck
Oil on panel
74 1/4 x 102 3/8 x 5 3/16 in. (open, framed)
Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie
Drama and Devotion: Heemskerck's : Altarpiece from Warsaw
LOS ANGELES • J. Paul Getty Museum • 5 June 2012 - 13 January 2013
|This exhibition explores the striking Ecce Homo altarpiece painted in 1544 by Dutch Renaissance painter Maerten van Heemskerck (1498–1574), one of the most admired Netherlandish painters of the 16th century. |
One of the treasures of the National Museum in Warsaw (Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie), Poland, the altarpiece has been conserved and extensively studied by a team of curators, conservators, and scientists at the Getty Museum and the Getty Conservation Institute over the course of eighteen months. On view in the United States for the first time, the Ecce Homo altarpiece serves as an ambassador for the National Museum, which celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2012.
The Ecce Homo is a triptych—a three-part panel painting with a central scene flanked by two hinged wings that fold shut. The interior scenes were visible on important liturgical feast days, when the altarpiece was opened, doubling in size and magnificence.
In the central panel, Pontius Pilate presents Christ, who has been mocked and beaten, to the riotous crowd of jeering Judean onlookers with the words "Behold! The Man!" (Ecce Homo; John 19:5). The figures fill the confines of the narrow scene and concentrate attention on Christ's suffering.
On the left and right panels, the patrons of the altarpiece, Jan van Drenckwaerdt and his second wife, Margaretha, kneel in prayer and gaze at the Ecce Homo. They are accompanied by their namesakes: Jan by Saint John the Evangelist, Margaretha by Saint Margaret of Antioch. The same saints, painted in grisaille, decorate the exterior.
The altarpiece originally adorned the private chapel of the Drenckwaerdt family in the church of the Augustinian monastery in Dordrecht, Holland. In 1572, when Dordrecht rebelled against Spain and adopted the Protestant Reformed faith, all the accoutrements of Catholic worship—including the Ecce Homo—were swiftly removed from Dordrecht's churches. According to local historical sources, the Ecce Homo was removed to the adjacent house of wealthy wine merchant and art collector Matthijs Berck.
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