(1570−1609), oil, canvas, 191,5 x 103,8 cm
NG S 1296, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The scene, taken from the Gospel according to Saint John (19,4), depicts Pontius Pilate as he speaks the words Ecce homo (Behold, the man!), showing the crowd of Jews Jesus, in a scarlet robe and crowned with thorns, to mock him as the King of the Jews. The artist portrayed Pilate as a Turkish potentate wearing a turban, as if to put the pagan Roman procurator on the same level as an Ottoman vizier.
The conditional attribution to Alvise Benfatto is based on the style of the painting, which wavers between Paolo Veronese and Palma the Younger. The typology of the figures and the mannerist posture of the Redeemer’s body are reminiscent of the former, while the colour scale and the dense chiaroscuro structure of the light and shade are close to Palma. If the painting is really by Alvise, then it must have been painted at the time of the artist’s maturity.
Provenance: Szapáry Castle, Murska Sobota; Narodni muzej, Ljubljana, before 1931 (bought as a Venetian work by a follower of Titian); Narodna galerija, Ljubljana, from 1934 onwards, old Inv. No. 109 (Palma the Younger).
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 11; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 4.
Lit: Vodnik 1931, p. 106, Fig. on p. 109 (Venetian painter from the circle around Titian, text F. Stele); Umetnost 1936–37, p. 3 with Fig. (attribution made by Bernard Berenson during his visit in Ljubljana in 1936); Mikuž 1941, p. 173 (Palma il Giov.); Cevc 1960, p. 19, Cat. No. 11, Fig. 5 (Palma il Giov.); Gamulin 1964, pp. 73, 80 (Palma il Giov.); Rizzi 1970, p. 234, note 3 (Venetian, 16/17C); Rizzi 1972, p. 132, No. 11 (Venetian Mannerist); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, pp. 102–103, Cat. and Fig. No. 4.