OIL PAINTING: Crowning with Thorns, 1618-1620
The contrast between the serenity of Christ and the villainy of his captors is vigorously conveyed in this early painting by Van Dyck. The composition of Crowning with Thorns , as so often, is based on a prototype by Titian, of whom Van Dyck was a passionate admirer. But the influence of Rubens is also crucial, and the presentation is typically baroque: the viewer is forced into the role of a close but helpless witness of the violence enacted. The effect is reinforced by Van Dyck's textures - for instance the exposed and brilliant chest of Christ against the gleaming precision of the axe above or the fluid musculature of the tormentor beside it.