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Christ Shown to the People (Ecce Homo)

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian, c.1485-90–1576
Oil on canvas
Made in
Venice, Veneto, Italy, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 236E
43 x 37 5/16 in. (109.2 x 94.8 cm)
framed: 57 1/4 x 51 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. (145.4 x 130.8 x 7 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
By the glow of blazing torchlight, Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, presents Christ to an unseen crowd who will decide his fate. Pilate’s extravagant fur-lined cloak and the page’s opulent jewelry contrast with the nearly naked Christ. The distinction between simplicity and splendor underscores the poignancy of the humiliation Christ endured. Evidenced by the sketchy application of paint in the upper left, the work was left unfinished at Titian’s death. During his long life, Titian had become one of the most celebrated artists of his day, recognized and sought after by popes and secular rulers. Qualities such as the assured, powerful brushwork, sensitive modeling, subdued palette, and emotional depth characterize Titian’s late style.
by 1566 -
Guidobaldo II della Rovere (1514-1574), Duke of Urbino, Urbino and Pesaro, Italy; Francesco Maria II della Rovere (1549-1631), Duke of Urbino, Urbania, Italy, by inheritance; Vittoria della Rovere (1622-1694/5), Italy, by inheritance; delle Rovere family, by inheritance [1]

1644 -
Paolo Coccapani, Bishop of Reggio, Reggio Emilia, Italy [2]

Henry Alexander Gordon Howard (1866-1927), 4th Earl of Effingham, Effingham, England [3]

- 1935
Rudolf Heinemann and Adolph Loewi, London, England, and Venice, Italy (owned jointly) [4]

Robert Frank, London, England [5]

- 1936
Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., New York, NY, USA [6]

1936 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co. [7]

The main sources for this provenance are the Titian catalogue by Harold Wethey and the 1993 exhibition catalogue for "La Siècle de Titian" [Wethey, Harold E. "The Paintings of Titian." London: Phaidon, 1969-1975, cat. no. 28; "Le siècle de Titien: l'âge d'or de la peinture à Venise: Grand Palais 9 mars-14 juin 1993." Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1993, cat. no. 261]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] This painting has been cited as having been in the Duke of Urbino's ownership at one time. According to a 1967 exhibition catalogue, this "may be the picture mentioned in a letter of January 26, 1566, in which the art agent Agatone wrote to the Duke of Urbino to report that Titian had assured him that the Ecce Homo that the Duke had ordered had been finished by the master's own hand" ["The Italian Heritage: An Exhibition of Works of Art Lent from American Collections for the Benefit of the Committee to Rescue Italian Art." Providence, RI: The Committee to Rescue Italian Art, 1967, cat. no. 22]. However, upon further investigation, the letter of 1566 only mentions that a "Christ" picture was finished by Titian's hand. Based on several della Rovere inventories that describe a similar type of painting, scholars including Giorgio Gronau, Grazia Bernini Pezzini, and Federico Pedrocco have identified the unspecified "Christ" painting as an "Ecce Homo" [Gronau, Giorgio. "Documenti artistici urbinati." Firenze: G. C. Sansoni, 1936, pgs. 61-61, 66, 103; Dante Bernini, Grazia Bernini Pezzini, and Zampetti, Pietro. "Tiziano per i Duchi di Urbino." Urbino: Palazzo Ducale, 1976, p. 63; Pedrocco, Federico. "Titian: The Complete Paintings." London: Thames and Hudson, p. 244, 296]. Unfortunately, there are few indications that the painting described in the inventories refers to the one in the Museum's collection. In fact, Pedrocco even claims that the "Ecce Homo" painted for the Duke is of a different type and is now lost. Although it seems that the painting may not have been owned by the Duke of Urbino, the notion that the inventories refer to the Museum's painting cannot be wholly disproved at this time. In addition, this picture had previously been dated to around 1565 but has more recently been assigned the later date of c.1570-75. This later dating makes the identification of this picture with the one mentioned in the 1566 letter less likely. It is possible, however, that the painting was begun as early as 1566.

[2] August L. Mayer first suggested that this picture was the same one acquired by the painter and art dealer, Gabriele Balestrieri in 1644 for Coccapani, Bishop of Reggio, citing Campori's Raccolta de Cataloghi [Mayer, August L. "A propos d'un nouveau livre sur le Titien." "Gazette des Beaux-Arts" 18 (1937): 307]. In a letter dated January 9, 1644, Balestrieri states that he purchased the picture in Venice for the bishop's collection. The painting is described as partly finished, partly sketched and by Titian's hand [Campori, Giuseppe. "Raccolta di cataloghi ed inventarii inediti: di quadri, statue, disegni, bronzi, dorerie, smalti, medaglie, avori, ecc. dal secolo XV al secolo XIX." Bologna: A. Forni, 1975 (Reprint of 1870 ed.), p. 144].

[3] According to letters dated February 20, 1936 and March 2, 1936, Paul M. Byk of Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co. states that his agent in England telegrammed that the "last owner" of the picture was Henry A. Gordon, 4th Earl of Effingham. In a letter dated February 22, 1936, scholar Lionello Venturi wrote that the picture was "for more than a century in an English collection, from which it was recently privately bought" [SLAM document files].

[4] According to Kay Robertson, daughter of Adolph Loewi, Loewi had joint ownership of the painting with Rudolf Heinemann, who was his partner and worked closely with him. Heinemann had been an advisor to the Thyssen Museum in Lugano, Switzerland where he lived and worked. Mrs. Robertson said he had a gallery in New York as well [notes of telephone conversation between Kay Robertson and Museum researcher Beth Hinrichs, August 2002, SLAM document files]. According to the National Gallery of Art's website, Heinemann left Europe in 1935 and became an American citizen in 1941 ["Rudolph J. Heinemann," The National Gallery of Art, accessed February 18, 2004 ].

Mrs. Robertson recalled this picture as being in the 1935 Titian exhibition in Venice. It is indeed listed in the catalog for this exhibition as being lent by Heinemann and Loewi ["Mostra di Tiziano: Catalogo delle opera." Venice: Officine grafiche C. Ferrari, 1935]. Since the Earl of Effingham was listed as the "last owner" (see note [3]), it is possible that Loewi and Heinemann acquired the work directly from the Earl of Effingham's collection.

[5] In a 1935 article August Mayer lists the painting as being in the collection of Messrs. Frank, Ltd. [Mayer, August L. "An Unknown 'Ecce Homo' by Titian." "The Burlington Magazine" 67 no. 389 (August 1935): 53].

[6] Paul Byk from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Adoph Loewi, and Rudolf Heinemann all worked closely together. In a letter dated February 15, 1936, Paul Byk refers to Rudolf Heinemann as "my partner" [SLAM document files].

[7] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, March 5, 1936.
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