Correggio – Ecce Homo.

This is one of the few efforts of Correggio to depict sorrow instead of joy, and though the work is technically an exquisite masterpiece, the expression falls short of success. The composition consists of five half-length figures. Christ, His hands bound with cords and a crown of thorns on His head, fills the centre. His figure is beautifully modelled, but too fleshy and round for the subject. His face shows more human pain than Divine sentiment. Pilate, in turban and mantle, looks from a window at the back, an expression of concern on his handsome, bearded face, and the head of a man in armour is seen on the other side of Christ. The finest bit of painting in the whole picture is the white face of the Madonna, gleaming cold and fixed from her vivid blue mantle. While clinging to a balustrade in front of her Son, she is falling back in a swoon of anguish into the arms of Mary Magdalene. As she sinks back, stiffening into insensibility, one can almost see the blood recede from her face and hands as one gazes. Her lip seems trembling still, while fast becoming rigid. The Magdalen supporting her is nearly hidden, but enough of her face is visible to show her loving sympathy. Agostino Caracci engraved this in 1587 when it was first in the possession of Count Prati at Parma, and before it became the property of Prince Colonna at Rome. The Marquis of Londonderry afterwards acquired it, and it is now in the National Gallery, London, though there are not wanting critics who say that London only possesses Lodovico Caracci’s copy of it. In which case, where is the original painting which Count Prati and Prince Colonna successively possessed ?