Crowning with Thorns (1607) Caravaggio Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Crowning with Thorns is an early 17th century painting by Caravaggio that can now be found at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It is a powerful and emotional scene, entirely typical of this memorable and unique Italian Baroque painter.

Artist Caravaggio would re-visit themes many times within his career, sometimes out of artistic curiosity and other times because he had been requested to do so by his wealthy patrons. In this case, there was another version of The Crowning with Thorns, though that composition is considerably different. In the painting in front of us here, with a larger image included at the bottom of the page, we find a gruesome reproduction of the moment when Christ is crowned with thorns. He is at the mercy of two individuals who take no care for his own pain or suffering, which is entirely typical of many of the stories told within the Bible. The artist wanted to convey the horror and discomfort of this moment by sparing the viewer nothing of this event. This was very much the honest approach taken by Caravaggio within his work and this led to a mixture of opinions appearing about his style, with some delighting at the realism, and others being left shocked by the attention to detail and disregard for one's feelings.

A knight in armour looks on from a darkened part of the scene as the two tradesmen go about their task. Christ looks discomforted but does not react negatively too the situation with violence. He is only partially clothed, with a red cloth around him, though it starts to fall away as this complex, arduous task is completed. The two men stand either side of him, holding cane rods that put this crown in place. The main angle of light comes in from above them, lighting up the three main figures. Christ looks young in this depiction, with a simple brown beard and a toned physique. The artist loved to show viewers all of the horrific detail of events such as this and saw it as an opportunity to create drama that his followers were now mainly used to, having followed his career for a number of years.

The original piece can be found in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. This venue is amongst the finest in Europe, boasting both a large and diverse selection of paintings from European artists, as well as displaying them within a stunning setting that includes some of the most breathtaking architecture to be found in the country. Caravaggio's work is deserving of such a prestigious location and it is pleasing to see some of his work available to a wider audience outside of Italy, as some others have been snapped up by private collectors in recent years and are therefore unlikely to be seen by the public anytime soon.

Crowning with Thorns (1607) in Detail Caravaggio