Monday, January 26, 2009

Honore Daumier's We Want Barabbas (or Ecce Homo), ca 1853-59

Preparing an exhibition of Lenten art for the church I attend is a wonderful opportunity to recall, reexamine, and reappreciate a number of my favorite religious images. Some are famous and others more obscure, some ancient and others more modern.

Having always loved Daumier's paintings (more than his prints), this particular image of Christ after his arrest and scourging appeals to me in its poignancy, especially the telling contrast between the stillness and passivity of Christ and the bloodthirsty, ferocious energy of the crowd. The work is unfinished (like so many of Daumier's paintings), but for that very reason, it conveys its message powerfully in an almost ludicrously minimal number of lines and tones.

Daumier rarely titled his paintings, so art historians called this We Want Barabbas. Recently it's been suggested that it's Ecce Homo. In either case, its power is undiminished.

The painting is in the collection of Essen's Museum Folkwang (see here for the homepage). Click on the picture for a larger image.

3 comments:

♥♥♥♥♥ Jennifer™® ♥♥♥♥♥ said...

your blog is very nice

Dr. Mel said...

Thank you, Jennifer. It's been dormant for about a year.

Perovskia said...

Powerful image.