Ecce Homo: Christ Presented to the People

Reference URL

Ecce Homo: Christ Presented to the People 1655
Pontius Pilate presents Christ as a prisoner to the crowd, offering to free him. St Matthew’s Gospel recounts how the people chose to release Barabbas (a murderer), thereby ensuring Christ’s crucifixion. The impact of Rembrandt’s moving interpretation of the scene was made more immediate through the dramatic architectural setting and the emotional reactions of the assorted onlookers. Rembrandt was a gifted etcher sensitive to the descriptive power of line from delicate contours to deep shadow. He often reworked his designs, adding detail to the copper plate in drypoint. This print is in its fifth state; in other words the composition has been adapted five times by the artist.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Copper plate

A sheet of metal plate used for printmaking or an impression made from it. In the 17th century, it was used as a support for small detailed oil paintings.


A printmaking technique that uses a needle to etch an image directly onto a copper plate. The resulting raised surface, or burr, which holds the ink used in the printmaking process produces a soft, velvety effect.


A form of printmaking in which a metal plate is covered with a substance called a 'ground', usually wax, into which an image is drawn with a needle. Acid is applied, eroding the areas of the plate exposed but not the areas covered by wax. The action of the acid creates lines in the metal plate that hold the ink from which a print is made when the plate is pressed against paper under pressure.

Composition, Copper plate, Drypoint, Etching


  • Acc. No. REMBRANDT.39
  • Medium Drypoint
  • Size 35.80 x 45.50 cm (cut at the top removing the architrave)
  • Credit Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Accepted by H.M. Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated through the Art Fund, 1992