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The Crowning with Thorns, is a piece of art that was painted in 1602/1604, although some people claim it must have been painted in 1607 when Caravaggio fled Rome.
The painting was created using oil on canvas and is said to have been created for Vincenzo Giustiniani’s collection.
Giustiniani was Caravaggio’s patron and held the artist’s works in high regards as he admired the intense realism in the paintings.
The Crowning with Thorns depicts an image of Christ while soldiers attach the crown of thorns onto his head, while an official looks on.
The Crowning of Thorns, like many other of the artist’s work, is likely to have been created without a workshop due to the artist spending a lot of his time on the run from the law. The painting is now found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
The Crowning of Thorns was painted during the Baroque period of European art, often showing dramatic scenes highlighting tension, power and endurance.
This kind of art was encouraged by the Church at the time. The Crowning with Thorns is one of fifteen works by Caravaggio that became part of Giustiniani’s collection, this collection became extremely influential in European art.
The work is painted true to the artists signature technique, showing light selectively illuminating certain acts through shadows. The Crowning of Thorns depicts Christ as he is having the crown of thorns brutally attached to his head.
The scene shows Christ who is clearly enduring pain but is accepting and submissive to his torturers. The look on Christ’s face and posture implies he is passively suffering the torture that is being inflicted on him. Jesus is shirtless and bare; his pale skin is a contract to the soldiers who are clothed and have tan, bronze skin.
The soldiers hammer the crown of thorns into Christ’s head, and have expressions that are painted in a way that implies they are enjoying it, possibly showing the relationship between pleasure and pain. Light shines down on the scene and in the shadows, there is an official looking on.
The official slouches on a bar watching on, he looks bored and shows no empathy while witnessing this horrendous act. This Crowning of Thorns is a subject used in another painting by Caravaggio, an earlier work depicted a similar scene with a few differences but has the same title and is said to have been painted around 1604/1605.