seated man wearing a turban at left, with two standing attendants, one of whom holds a basin and the other pours a vessel of water over his hands; soldiers with spears, holding Christ by the arms, at right, seen from back

Pilate Washing His Hands, c. 1509

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Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea, washes his hands as armed henchmen lead the bound Christ away. Pilate is attempting to remove the moral stain on his conscience left by his having knowingly allowed the rabble to free the criminal Barabbas while sending Christ to his death. In an act that reinforces the finality of the unjust decision, one of the guards looks back over his shoulder to confirm that Pilate has indeed washed his hands of the affair. This is a proof printed prior to the regular edition of Albrecht Dürer’s Small Passion, a book in which he visually narrated key stories of the life of Christ.

Details
Title
Pilate Washing His Hands
Artist Life
1471–1528
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.92.2
Provenance
Sir Peter Lely (London, 1618-1689, Lugt 2092). Thomas French Fine Art, Fairlawn, Ohio
Catalogue Raisonne
Bartsch 36; Meder 145 i/iii
Curator Approved

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seated man wearing a turban at left, with two standing attendants, one of whom holds a basin and the other pours a vessel of water over his hands; soldiers with spears, holding Christ by the arms, at right, seen from back