“Ecce Homo” [Behold the Man, John 19:5]. Washed drawing in pen, brown ink, and charcoal by Jan Luyken (Amsterdam 1649-1712) after an etching by Lucas van Leyden. Size approximately 16.1 x 27.6 cm.
In this wonderfully precise drawing Pontius Pilate presents a scourged Jesus, bound and crowned with thorns, to a hostile crowd in Jurasalem shortly before his Crucifixion (John 19:5). A scene of the ecce homo is a standard component of cycles illustrating the Passion and life of Christ. The drawing was a design for an engraving in Luyken’s plate Bible, which was published in various editions in Amsterdam. Luyken took the illustrated Bibles of Albrecht Dürer and Lucas van Leyden as his examples.
J. Immerzeel wrote in 1842 that Jan Luyken “reached a height of fame in the art of drawing and etching that is only the goal of geniuses.” In many of his drawings, “the richness of his compositions sufficiently indicates to the trained eye that he has worked on all subjects with the same attentiveness and care that his quick and witty way of working allowed. How inventive, thoughtful, and judicious are Luyken’s large Bible prints in the arrangement of large groups and gatherings of thousands of figures, each with its own character even at great distances! Who, like him, knew how to bring so much wonderfully varied expression and truth to his images with a single stroke?” Additionally, Luyken was “accomplished in the rules of perspective and architecture, and also showed his rich imagination and excellent taste in the latter field.” “In almost all of his larger and smaller works of art, a remarkable effect and harmony prevail; his figures are generally firmly drawn, but he cared little about the costume, mostly following his free imagination.”
Provenance: Annotated on the verso “Bought at the Sale of Mr. Reveley drawings May 11. 1852. (In whose ‘Notices’ this drawing is mentioned.)”