The presentation of Christ to the people to be mocked by them concludes His religious and civil trial, which is the last stage of the Passion before the Crucifixion. Crowned with thorns and with the reed scepter in His bound hands, His pitiable figure is exhibited in lonely contrast to the contemptuous horde that views Him.
The iconography of Ecce Homo is derived from Jn 19.4–7. The subject became important in Christian art only after the late Middle Ages and under the influence of mystical interpretation of the Passion of Christ. Thus, the iconography of Ecce Homo developed at the same time as that of the "Man of Sorrows" or "Christ of Pity."
The first representation of Ecce Homo proper is found in the Codex Egberti (10th century, Trier). From the 11th to the early 12th century the subject occurs in the narrative cycle of the Passion. In the early 15th century it began to enjoy an increasingly more important role in art. Contemporary theology as well as late medieval mystery plays of the Passion stimulated the development of the subject, and it became very popular, especially in northern countries. The figure of Christ was isolated from subsidiary motifs in the narrative representation and formed an Andachtsbild. In the 16th century the subject was spread widely by means of graphic art (Dürer, Altdorfer, etc.). Titian painted the full scene three times during his career (1543, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; 1547, Prado, Madrid; 1565, Hermitage, Leningrad), and there are further examples from the baroque period by Reni, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
Bibliography: k. kÜnstle, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur (Munich 1890; 2d ed. 1897) 1:437–440. o. schmitt, Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte 4 (Stuttgart 1958) 674–700. l. rÉau, Iconographie der l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 1955–59) 2.2:459–461.