Christ, crowned with thorns, is clothed in a robe of imperial purple in mockery of his description as the King of the Jews.
Van Dyck shows Christ as the Man of Sorrows with a single tear running down his face – an image of profound sadness and humility. The format, with Christ’s body shown close up, confronts us with his human suffering. The title, Ecce Homo, means Behold the Man – the words Pilate used to present Christ to the people before his crucifixion.
The great Flemish artist Van Dyck painted this work in Genoa during his stay in Italy (1621-7) for the noble Balbi family.