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Monday 23 April 2018

Jan Collaert II’s engraving, “Ecce Homo”, 1584–7, after Jan van der Straet

Jan Collaert II (aka Hans Collaert; Jan Baptist Collaert I) (c1561–c1620)

“Ecce Homo” (behold the man), 1584–7, after Jan van der Straet (1523–1605), plate 12 from the series of 21 engravings (see the BM Curator’s advice about variations in the plate numbers noted in the description of the title plate for the series: BM no. 1943,0709.149), “Passio, mors et resurrectio dn. Nostri Iesu Christi”, published by Philips Galle (1537–1612) in Antwerp.

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed to the image borderline and lacking the biblical text lines and publication details.
Size: (sheet) 16.2 x 13.6 cm
State i (of ii?) before the publisher’s name is inscribed within the image borderline and the floor is portrayed as tiled. (See a later state impression listed by the antique dealer, Winstein:

New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 101.I (Johannes Stradanus); New Hollstein (Dutch & Flemish) 361.I (The Collaert Dynasty); Baroni Vannucci 1997 695.12 (Alessandra Baroni Vannucci 1997, “Jan van der Straet, detto Giovanni Stradano, flandrus pictor et inventor”, Milan, Jandi Sapi Editori).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 12, Ecce Homo: Christ, in frontal view, wearing the mock regalia, stands before an archway; to the left, Pilate holds Christ's robe and stretches his hand out, towards the viewer; a group of soldiers guard the accused”

Condition: early crisp impression with little or no wear to the plate, trimmed image borderline. There are a small mark verso that is faintly visible recto at left of centre, otherwise the sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, abrasions, folds or foxing) for its considerable age. The verso has the remnant of a mounting strip at upper edge.

I am selling this superb early impression of a rare masterwork executed with almost unbelievable skill and discipline—note that the lines rendering Christ’s legs are so fine that they can only be seen properly with the help of a loupe—for AU$288 in total (currently US$220.18/EUR179.96/GBP157.78 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in acquiring this magnificent engraving from an age when printmakers clearly had no time for a social life, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For those who may be perplexed as to why two different titles—“Ecce Homo” and “The Man of Sorrows”—are often used for artworks showing Christ standing alone facing the viewer, I’ve decided to offer my understanding of this convention ...

Regarding “Ecce Homo” images, these show the episode in Christ’s passion leading to his crucifixion when has been scourged, crowned with thorns, stripped and presented to the hostile crowd under the supervision/jurisdiction of Pilate. In short, “Ecce Homo” (transl. “Behold the Man”) images illustrate a specific moment in Christ’s ordeal before he is led away to be crucified.

By contrast, images showing Christ as “The Man of Sorrows” go beyond illustrating the specific event in Christ’s passion. Instead, here Christ is portrayed as a devotional figure—what historians term as an "andachtsbilder"—for a viewer’s prayers with all the symbolic attributes of his passion showcased: his five wounds (viz. the nail holes and lance wound to his torso); blood streaming from his lance wound; instruments of torture; a chalice; crown of thorns; cross; scourging pillar; Christ’s suffering face with his eyes usually looking at the viewer. 

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