<< Search Results
Bookmark and Share

Attributed to Christus, Petrus (South Netherlandish painter, born ca. 1410, died 1475 or 1476) , The Man of Sorrows

Core Record

Title The Man of Sorrows
Alternative Title Christ as Saviour and Judge
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Christus, Petrus (South Netherlandish painter, born ca. 1410, died 1475 or 1476)
Previously attributed to circle of Eyck, Jan van (Netherlandish painter, ca.1390-1441)
Previously attributed to Master of the Saint Ursula Legend (German painter, active ca. 1485-ca. 1515)
Date Earliest about 1448
Date Latest about 1452
Description This tiny panel would have been used for private prayer and meditation and is one of only three works by the artist in Britain.

This work has been described as an 'unhistorical and visionary Ecce Homo' and may be the earliest known painting of its type. Christ is simultaneously both Heavenly Judge and Man of Sorrows. He wears an elaborate, floriated, tripartite nimbus and stands not in his tomb but in water (the lapis lazuli blue has darkened) symbolising the Water of Life. To either side stand mourning angels who hold back a green curtain in a format that is familiar from royal dynastic portraits. The angel with frowning brow bears the sword of judgement and the other, the lilies of mercy reminding the devout that they will not escape the Day of Judgement but that Christ is also merciful. Despite this magnificence, the anguished face of the bearded Christ gazes toward the viewer. His naked and wounded torso is pushed close to picture frame giving the image the appearance of a sacred relic.

It is painted with a precise technique recalling manuscript illumination; its colours and light effects glowing with a jewel-like intensity.
Current Accession Number 1935P306
Former Accession Number P.306´35
Subject religion (Man of Sorrows)
Measurements 11.4 x 8.6 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel (hardwood)
Acquisition Details Given by the Feeney Charitable Trust 1935.
Provenance Empress Maria Theresa(;); Rev. Henry Parry Liddon, D.D. Canon of St Paul's Collection; by descent to his niece, Mary Ambrose, 1890; Major M. R. Liddon.
Principal Exhibitions Flemish School: Late 15th or Early 16th Century, Agnew',s 1957, cat. no. 22; Old Masters from the City of Birmingham, Wildenstein and Company, 1970, cat. no. 3; Meister Francke und die Kunst une 1400, Kunsthalle, 1969; Jan van Eyck: Early Netherlandish Painting, Groeningemuseum, Bruges, 2002, cat. no. 10, pl.66, p.230; Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, 2003, cat. no. 5; Petrus Christus; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994, cat. no. 9, p.113; Art Treasures of England: Regional Collections, Royal Academy of Arts, 1998, cat. no. 275, ill.; Seeing Salvation: The Image of Christ, National Gallery, 2000, cat. no. 75, ill.; Antonello da Messina, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome, 2006.
Publications Rowlands, J., 'A Man of Sorrows by Petrus Christus', Burlington Magazine, vol. 104, 1962, p. 419 - 423; Ringbom, S., 'Icon to Narrative, the Rise of the Dramatic Close-Up in Fifteenth Century Devotional Painting, Acta Accademiae Aboensis, 31, no. 2, 1965, p. 52, fig. 13; Friedländer, M. J., Early Netherlandish Painting I, The Van Eycks, 1967. p.107, pl.108b; Sterling, C., 'Jean Hey, Le Maître de Moulins' , Revue de l'Art, 1968, p. 31, no. 14, fig. 2; Eisler, C., 'The Golden Christ fo Cortona, and the Man of Sorrows in Italy, Part One', Art Bulletin, vol. 51, 1969, p. 113, no. 42; Sterling, C., 'Observations on Petrus Christus', Art Review, 53, 1971, p. 12, pp. 21-4, no. 49; Schabacker, P. H., Petrus Christus, Utrecht, 1974, p.46, p.105-6, fig. 13; Upton, J. M., Petrus Christus: His Place in Fifteenth Century Flemish Painting, Pennsylvania State University, 1990, pp.44-47, pp. 55-57, fig. 53; Till-Holger Borchert, The Age of Van Eyck 1430-1530: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting, Ludion, 2002, p. 55, pl. 66; Old Masters from the City of Birmingham, ex cat, 1960, p. 51; Panhans-Buhler, U., 'Eklektizmus und Originalität im Werk des Petrus Christus', Weiner Kunstgeschichtliche Forschungen, V., Vienna, 1978, pp. 36 - 54, pl. 13; Hand, J. O., 'Salve sancta facies: Some Thoughts on the Iconography of the Head of Christ by Petrus Christus', Journal of the Metropolitan Museum Journal, 27, 1992, p. 7; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 28, ill.; Petrus Christus: Renaissance Master of Bruges, Exh cat; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994.
Notes On the back, a paper impression of the seal of the Empress Maria Teresa fixed with sealing wax. Beneath this is an inscription in ink 'Rogier Van der Weyden'. The previous attribution to Master of the Saint Ursula Legend was made by M. Hulin de Loo based on an analogy between the two angels and angels painted by this master. The previous attribution to Spanish or Portuguese School was apparently made by E.K. Waterhouse and others.

This work has been considered a key work of Christus ever since the attribution to Christus was made in 1962 by J. Rowlands.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



about        contact        terms of use        image credits        © 2018