Ecce Homo

1496–1500
Workshop of Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, active by 1480, died in 1516)


Dimensions

73 x 57.2 cm (28 3/4 x 22 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

53.2027

Medium or Technique

Oil on panel

On View

William A. Coolidge Gallery (Gallery 243A)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Paintings

The central panel of this altarpiece shows Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, in the moments before he authorized Jesus’s crucifixion. Pilate could find no fault with Jesus, so he presented him to the gathering, unruly crowd and asked them to judge. On the open wings, the altarpiece’s donors, Peter van Os and Hendrixke van Langel, kneel in devotion with their patron saints. The couple may have commissioned the work in memory of Hendrixke’s father, Franco van Langel, who appears prominently on the exterior of the left wing. (Her mother, Heilwich van der Rullen, also appears, on the exterior of the right wing.) The excessively careful paint handling suggests the work of assistants following the master’s model.

Provenance

About 1496/1500, commissioned by Peter van Os (b. before 1467), 's Hertogenbosch [see note 1]. 1888, Frederick William Harris (b. 1833 - d. 1917), Coombe House, Croydon and Gracechurch Street, London [see note 2]; July 21, 1888, anonymous (consigned by F. W. Harris) sale, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, lot 78, sold for £19.19 to "White," possibly Henry White, London [see note 3]; to Charles Holden White (b. 1869 - d. 1948); London; November 26, 1948, Holden White estate sale, Christie's, London, lot 36, to Gerald Kerin (dealer), London, for £682.10. By 1951, Arthur Kauffmann (dealer), London, probably in partnership with Cassirer Gallery, London [see note 4]; 1953, sold by Kauffmann, through Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York, to the MFA for $48,000. (Accession Date: September 10, 1953)

NOTES:
[1] This was the central panel of a triptych; for related wings and predella see MFA object nos. 56.171.1a-b, 56.171.2a-b, 56.172. For a discussion of the patronage and iconography, see G.C.M. van Dijck, "Peter van Os ontmaskerd," De Brabantse Leeuw 47, no. 2 (1998): 116-124.

[2] Harris consigned the triptych to Christie's in 1888. An old, now largely illegible label on the reverse of the panel bears his name and his address at Coombe House.

[3] Sold as a work by the Early Flemish school, described as "A triptych, with Ecce Homo in the centre, and saints and donors on the wings". The triptych was sold in 1948 by the estate of Charles Holden White, and was probably purchased in 1888 not by him but by a family member. His parents were Henry White and Eleanor D'Ouchy Holden White of London.

[4] Correspondence from MFA curator Hanns Swarzenski to Arthur Kauffmann in the curatorial files indicates that Grete Ring (of the London branch of Cassirer) had also been offering the panels for sale. Ring had moved in with Arthur and Tamara Kauffmann in London; see Christina Feilchenfeldt, "The Paul Cassirer Gallery (1933-1945), Berlin-Amsterdam-London," in Echoes of Exile: Moscow Archives and the Arts in Paris, 1933-1945, ed. I. Rotermund-Reynard (Berlin, 2015), 134-136.

Credit Line

William K. Richardson Fund, William Francis Warden Fund, and Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection