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The Crowning of Thorns (Le couronnement d'épines)

James Tissot

European Art

Following the scourging, or flagellation, the Roman soldiers clothe Christ in a scarlet cloak, thus mocking his claims to royalty. Tissot reminds his readers of the color’s associations in Jewish tradition, noting that wearing this color marks Jesus as the bearer of humanity’s sins.

Tissot discusses in great detail the construction of the crown of thorns shown here, the base of which, he claims, was formed by a band of rushes and could still be seen at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris among its collection of relics. Rather than a wreath of thorns, which would have largely confined the pain to the area around the temples, Tissot surmised that the crown was actually shaped like a domed hat (this can be more clearly seen in later scenes); the blows and the pressure of the reeds held by the taunting men against Jesus’ head would therefore have produced greater pain.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 14 3/16 x 9 11/16 in. (36 x 24.6 cm) Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 11/16 in. (36 x 24.6 cm) Frame: 22 7/8 x 16 7/8 x 1 1/2 in. (58.1 x 42.9 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.266
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Crowning of Thorns (Le couronnement d'épines), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 14 3/16 x 9 11/16 in. (36 x 24.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.266 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.266_after_treatment_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, after treatment, 00.159.266_after_treatment_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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