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Circle of Jean Hey, formally called the Master of Moulins (fl. 1494-1504)
Circle of Jean Hey, formally called the Master of Moulins (fl. 1494-1504)

Ecce Homo

Details
Circle of Jean Hey, formally called the Master of Moulins (fl. 1494-1504)
Ecce Homo
oil and gold on walnut panel, arched top, in an integral frame
12½ x 9 7/8 in. (31.7 x 25.1 cm.)
inscribed 'ECCE HOMO' (lower center)

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Joshua Glazer
Joshua Glazer

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Lot Essay

This hitherto unknown panel is an exceptionally rare example of early French painting, a field that suffered losses from revolutionary turmoil as much as from centuries of neglect caused by change in artistic tastes. Its delicate execution, the sculptural quality of the figures, and its bright color scheme evoke the work of the Master of Moulins, today convincingly identified as Jean Hey, the court painter to the powerful duke Pierre II of Bourbons who was praised by the chronicler Jean Lemaire des Belges as one of the foremost artist of his day. Jean Hey’s elegant courtly style spread across the Bourbonnais and Lyon regions and finds undisputed echoes in this Ecce Homo. This panel is especially reminiscent of a picture of the same subject from 1494 now in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels, commissioned by Jean Cueillette, a former court official to the duke of Bourbons and by then secretary to King Charles VIII of France. The present work shares with the Brussels panel its subject, depicting the moment after the scourging during which Christ is presented to the people, and its restrained sense of pathos. Considering that the present Christ faces left, and given the original function of the Brussels picture, it is possible that this work would have had a pendant or served as a diptych alongside a Mater Dolorosa mourning at the torments inflicted on her son, a portrait showing a donor in prayer in front of the suffering Christ, or another similar image. The intimately-sized panel would certainly have functioned as an object of private devotion, whose purpose and emotional appeal are underscored by the lack of narrative details which allow the viewer to focus on Christ's quiet acceptance of his fate and the beautiful crying angels beside him.

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