Artwork of The Week: March 15
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), The Mocking of Christ (Large Passion), 1505, woodcut, 7 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
This woodcut exemplifies a popular image type called the “Suffering Christ” or “Man of Sorrows” in which the Savior displays the wounds of the Crucifixion. These pictorial representations developed from the Catholic doctrine of “Perpetual Passion,” an idea popularized in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that affirmed man’s culpability in the eternal suffering of Christ. These brutal images were intended to elicit strong feelings of remorse or guilt on the part of the sinner and to be a deterrent to further transgressions.
In this work, an agonized Christ confronts the viewer, manifesting the wounds in His hands and feet while seated on the lid of a sepulcher. Dürer created this image for the title page of The Large Passion, a series of woodblock prints depicting Christ’s suffering from the Garden of Gethsemane through the Crucifixion. Dürer portrayed the Passion five different times during his career, with a sixth version left unfinished at his death.