This moving image of Christ as The Man of Sorrows relates to a type that originated in the workshop of Dieric Bouts I (Haarlem c. 1415-1475) in the late-fifteenth century, and was adopted and developed by his son Albrecht Bouts (Leuven c. 1452/5-1549) at the beginning of the sixteenth century. This depiction relates to the Passion, or suffering of Christ, showing the Saviour crowned with thorns, weeping for Man's sins. Small devotional paintings of this type were used by Catholics as aids to private prayer. This panel may originally have been paired with another panel to form a diptych that could be folded up to protect the painted surfaces when not in use, or when travelling. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Christian Church emphasised the physical and spiritual suffering of Christ and his mother Mary's empathetic reaction, which Christians were encouraged to follow. It thus became common in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries for images of the suffering Christ to be twinned with a matching image of Mary, as Mater Dolorosa. One such example, by a follower of Bouts, is in the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen. It is possible that the present painting also once had a matching panel depicting the Virgin.