Ecce Homo is Latin for ‘Behold the Man’. According to the Gospel of John, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate spoke these words when he presented Jesus to a multitude of Jews before the judgement hall in Jerusalem. The resentful high priests and elders who had ordered his arrest falsely accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of the Jews. Pilate asked the crowd what he should do with Jesus, upon which they shouted, ‘Let him be crucified!’ and sealed his fate.
Shortly before Jesus was brought before the people, Pilate’s soldiers had scourged him and mockingly dressed him as ‘King of the Jews’. In Ecce Homo scenes he is often shown wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe, and may also hold a reed as a sceptre. His naked body is covered with drops of blood. This is the guise in which Christ appears as the ‘Man of Sorrows’.