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Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606–1669
Christ Presented to the People (“The Ecce Homo”), 1655
drypoint on Japanese paper
plate (irregular): 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 inches
Museum Shop Fund, Friends Fund, and funds given in honor of James D. Burke, Museum Director from 1980 to 1999 by Mr. and Mrs. Lester A. Crancer Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Christian B. Peper, the Ruth Peters MacCarthy Charitable Trust, an anonymous donor, Mary and Oliver Langenberg, Phoebe and Mark Weil, Sam and Marilyn Fox, The Sidney S. and Sadie Cohen Print Purchase Fund, the Julian and Hope Edison Print Fund, Margaret Grigg Oberheide, an anonymous donor, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth F. Teasdale, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Bachmann, the Anne L. Lehmann Charitable Trust, Anabeth Calkins and John Weil, Mrs. James Lee Johnson Jr., Suzanne and Jerry Sincoff, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Weiss, Mr. and Mrs. Martin E. Galt III, and Mr. and Mrs. Andrew B. Craig III 1:1999

In this print based on an event in the Bible, the large crowd and monumental architecture provide a dramatic setting for the main figures. On the central platform, two men are shackled next to the governor Pontius Pilate (PON-chus PI-lut), who wears a turban. Jesus Christ is to the right, his head bowed while Barabbas (bar-RAB-us), a criminal, stands between Jesus and Pilate. At festival time in Jerusalem, it was traditional for the governor to release a prisoner. Pilate asks the crowd which of the men, Christ or Barabbas, should be released. It is a pivotal moment in the story—Christ will not be released and will instead be crucified. Rembrandt’s composition was made using the drypoint technique. The artist scratched and cut directly into a copper plate to produce a variety of lines. Then the plate was inked, wiped, and run through a printing press. In this resulting image printed on special paper, sharp lines contrast with blurred edges and rich tones.

For younger students:
Make up a title that you think best describes this work.
Describe three figures you see in the crowd.

For older students:
Name five ways by which Rembrandt draws attention to the main characters.
Do you think the artist intended for us to be part of the scene? Why or why not?

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